Ray & his Court are a family of musicians led by composer, arranger, organist and flutist, Ray Hernandez. Hailing from Miami, they were still playing together in the early 2000’s, more than 30 years after they emerged on on the music scene in the mid-70’s!
Heavily influenced by deep funk and Latin music, their psych-tinged creations also incorporated many other kaleidoscopic sound infusions, including soul, calypso, Afro-Cuban and salsa. Fronted by Ray Fernandez, his band included his very talented wife and two sons and proved to be a highly influential group on Miami’s Latin music scene in the late 70’s! What also made them stand out was their versatility; this group could easily shift from Cuban funk to Reggae in a blink. Their instrumentation was also different to the ‘norm’, and where a lot of similar sounds were saxophone-led, this band used a bass clarinet! Instead of bongos, Ray and His Court played with the unique Osi drums from Africa.
Originally released as a single in 1973 on Miami’s Sound Triangle Records (and featuring on their debut album released that same year), Soul Freedom is a heavy-groove instrumental that demonstrates the band’s many diverse influences and instrumentation perfectly. The Afrobeat groove is punctuated by heavy percussion and airy, sun-drenched horns, whilst its sinuous, funk melody kicks out dark, earthy tones on that striking bass clarinet. Check it out above.