"Give this man a show on cable!" City Arts covers The Holler Sessions Jan 12, 2015
...From there, Ray riffs. He plays songs by Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington and Ben Webster and Charles Mingus. He talks about them like a relatable amateur musicologist—"here comes the ride cymbal" and "every time I hear Ben Webster play I realize again that horns are played via human breathing." Jazz is the lens through which he examines American culture, its triumph and amnesia, its obsession with celebrity, its racism, its materialism, its ignorance of the most crucial contributions to its own cultural legacy.
Ray is to jazz what Anthony Bourdain is to food: blessedly self-aware, hopelessly enamored, scathingly articulate and eager to share enthusiasm for one of life's great shareable pleasures. (Give this man a show on cable!) He makes no effort to conceal his personal attachment to the subject matter—he dances to the music, he yelps and sighs, he admits to the "yolk sac" status of his jazz awakening at 31 years old. Despite the barely sketched nature of the character, Ray's humanity emerges through his impassioned, walleyed mania, like he's forever on the brink of screaming or weeping. He chooses the most visceral anecdotes, the most gorgeous tunes, the most powerful analogies to convey his imperative. In Ray's world, it's appreciate jazz or die from thirst. It's not simply history, it's lifeblood.