There's an understanding among artists of all walks that the most gifted make their statements with the most refinement. From Picasso and Rembrandt to Miles and B.B., at the height of their artistry, each was able to express volumes with a few precise brush strokes or one and well placed note. Chicago native Ray Fuller, a guitarist, composer and band leader blessed with limitless capacities for taste, economy and sensitivity, is well on the road to such refinement, though it's mostly been other musicians who have realize it... That will change upon the release of Ray Fuller's first album as a leader "The Weeper", its title taken from the nickname he was given by none other than world class musician, George Duke.
From hard working teen on the scene in the '70s to A-list session player and world touring Guitarist/Musical Director in the present, Ray Fuller has earned the enviable title of the chosen few in his profession: that of musician's musician." For three decades, Ray has been honing his skills in the service of some of the greatest asked most diversified artists of all-time. His resume includes legends Curtis Mayfield, Quincy Jones, Roebuck "Pops Staples & The Staple Singers, Nancy Wilson and "Mr. Motown" himself, Berry Gordy. It also includes all-around musician / producers such as George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, David Foster and Mike Post. It includes vocal divas Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, Anita Baker and Oleta Adams. And it includes Contemporary Gospel royalty The Winans, Kirk Franklin,Tramaine Hawkins and Yolanda Adams.
This first solo project has been a long time coming for Fuller.'l started thinking about how much life had crept up on me," he muses."A musician known for supporting others (and very satisfied with that) began to see that life had become far too easy. I started thinking about my children how one day they would want to know about who their daddy was as an 'artiste.' I figured I'd better start thinking about MY legacy and getting a story told."
Ray was gently pushed into this more foreground position by several people who recognized his greater potential as a lead artist. One was the late artist manager Howard Lowell, who told Ray he envisioned him playing beautiful melodies. Peer saxophonist Everette Harp keenly elaborates, 'Ray's ability to subtly emote through his guitar is merely an extension of his soul.With the exception of the late,great Eric Gale, I have never heard anyone play this style. And The Weeper has taken it a step or two further.' Perhaps the biggest push came in 1997 in the form of some tough love from Ray's frequent employer, George Duke. When Ray asked him to produce some music for him, Duke said,"No, because you already know what you want. All of the choices that you make around for me are the same ones you need to go ahead and make for yourself."
"I was frustrated with the overall musicianship as it related to artistry vs. business," Ray explains. "I always felt I could make radio-friendly music yet keep my natural integrity. Just call what I do 'funky deep!'We can groove but with a level of musicianship where we don't have to be shallow about it."
The Weeper album introduces Ray not only as a spotlighted musician, but as a keen arranger and heartfelt composer (note: Ray's very first composition, "Tell Me This Night Won't End" was recorded on soul singer Gerald Alston's Motown solo album, Open Invitation). For this album, the reluctant writer even stumbled upon a DAT of the song 'Friday," which he'd co-written with Jeff Lorber four years ago! He swiftly added it to The Weeper's tune stack. He wound up composing another song,Weeper's Thang," on-the-spot, just before a session with keyboardist Dave Kochanski. Ray relays,"Dave went in one room and I went in another. I came up with a groove in c-minor. He came up with a verse and a bridge. Our individual pieces fit like a glove." Ray and Dave also co-composed the lush evocation of Mediterranean delights,"Spanish Flyer." Ray returns to the tropics on two warm and inviting instrumental covers of the Brazilian pieces 'Particlo Alto" and "She Walks This Earth" (the latter written by acclaimed composer and artist in his own right, Ivan Lins).