There was glorious weather for all, people, musicians, agents, photographers roaming the fields of the Festival. Whilst the Press Tent had been a shelter on day one, when the wind and sporadic rain had decided to come down on the green fields, on the Sunday it suddenly turned more like a sauna tent for the remainder time of my interviews.
My brief chat with Ray in the tent was too short; Mr. Gelato being the busy body that he is, had to leave soon after, but we agreed we will reconvene for a “proper” chat in the early autumn.
Apart from always having admired Ray for his charisma and talent, I wanted to capture him after his opening performance on the Main Stage to talk a bit about the atmosphere, his preparation for the Festival and my favourite question… how he relaxes!
EY: First of all, Ray, impressive show on the Main Stage. How did you and Claire (Martin) get together for the recording of the new album “We’ve got a world that swings” which came out in May?
RG: Well, Claire and I have known each other for a long time, for 30 years, we have been friends for a while, but we decided to “rekindle” our music friendship if you like, and start this little thing, this project, we felt it was needed: this boy / girl vocal duet, she adds the sophistication, I add the rough diamond! So the album came out of that
EY: The album is doing very well, tell our readers about the concept behind the album.
RG: We wanted to create a mix of jazz, rhythm & blues and vocalese which we both like to do and keep the variety going for the listeners and the audiences.
EY: Playing at the Love Supreme Festival, how did it feel today? I noticed there were lots of people dancing and having a good time to your tunes.
RG: Well, yes, you are right, there was a good atmosphere. When we started, because we were the opening act, there were a few people, we played more and more and more and more people joined: we literally drew the crowd in. What better accolade than that? I have never played at the Festival before, but I have been very impressed how young it is. One can play old music but you have to dress it up in a new costume and I love reaching out to young people all the time. It is my goal.
EY: So this vibrant atmosphere you are describing and that you created today is only a small reminder of your talent and Claire’s of course. How do you make sure you offer the crowd a fresh show every time (and you do do that), how does that happen?
RG: Well, it is not a conscious thing, I don’t sit down and plan it all out. I think my enthusiasm and hers for the music are our heroes. Billie Holiday, Louis Prima, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, my saxophone hero: I always feel there is a part of me in all that. That kind of spiritual thing urges me on to do it. You have to present the music in a different and fresh way so we also don’t stick to the same formulas, we do change things round often.
EY: Is this partnership between you and Claire something that could be a repeat in the future?
RG: Oh yes, without a doubt. Claire has her career, she has a very successful one, I have my own career and a few other projects, but this is a beautiful project where we can meet in the middle. We would certainly like to do a second album; this one has been well received and we have had good reviews on the Observer, Jazzwise magazine (at this point I moan at Ray, reminding him I still haven’t had MY review copy of the album and promptly, like the true gent that he is, he says I can follow him to the “artists’ quarter” so that I can have my very own copy, which of course is what I did!).
As long as the people want us, we will be there to do it!
EY: My last question to you, Ray is one “de rigueur” which I love asking every time: how does Ray Gelato relax, if he relaxes at all that is
RG: Well, yes, I have several ways, one is smoking cigars! I love my havanas! Number two is I love cooking and three I love doing nothing, nothing at all, otherwise I love spending time with my two young children. But I must say the biggest way is getting away with a cigar and not talking to anybody! (big laugh ensues).
I tell Ray that he is the third artist on the day that confesses to loving to cook at which point he quite aptly says that it is quite normal for musicians to love cooking as it is all down to improvising which runs in parallel to what music should be all about: creative and certainly not repetitive.
Oh yes and Mr. Gelato certainly adheres to that first group: talent, an infectious smile and a phenomenal power to perform.
We leave the Press Tent saying cheerio in Italian and the promise to reconvene for a longer chat soon.
A presto allora!
Words: Erminia Yardley
Photos: Carl Hyde
YT video and photos also supplied by: Anders Janes at Ray Gelato Productions
Checkout Ray’s CD’s DVD’s & Cookbook