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Ray Porrello and Fine Jazz

By Leigh

On 29, Oct 2014 | In | By Leigh

Ray Porrello and Fine Jazz

Ray Porrello started playing his father’s drums at age three, and a love of jazz began with a record collection of drumming artists like Louie Bellson, Buddy Rich, Shelly Manne, Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Jimmy Cobb. Ray started studying formally at age 13 with local teachers Eddie Bobick and Bob McKee. Soon, Ray was introduced to world-reknowned jazz drummer Louie Bellson, who would become a close mentor and inspiration. On Bellson’s recommendation, Ray soon did a short stint with the Count Basie Orchestra.

Shortly following and again on Bellson’s recommendation, Ray auditioned for and was hired by Sammy Davis Jr., becoming his personal drummer. Ray played with Sammy on all of his TV appearances, including The Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, and Mike Douglas, as well as on Sammy’s own show, Sammy and Company. Sammy took Ray on the road to Japan, New Zealand, Europe, and Australia, and to famous theatres including Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium, and the Sydney Opera House for the live recording of Sammy (available as a compilaiton of Sammy’s greatest hits).

During his time with Sammy, Ray worked with great jazz artists like JJ Johnson, Doc Severinsen, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Ray Brown, Paul Smith and Al McGibbon. Ray eventually settled in Las Vegas, where he played in the Mickey Finn Show and in the house band at Ceasar’s Palace.

Upon returning to Cleveland, Ray began teaching in the Jazz Studies Program at Cuyahoga Community College. More recently, he has worked with noted locals Ernie Krivda and the Fat Tuesday Big Band, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, The Dave Banks Big Band, Helen Welch, Evelyn Wright, Laura Varcho, After Dark, the Joe Hunter Trio, Dave Sterner and many others. He also leads his own group, Ray Porrello and Fine Jazz, and is the drummer for The Avenue band.

  • We had both the Ray Porrello Quartet and Michael Alexander as our D.J. and M.C for the night. Ray Porrello and his bandmates were absolutely remarkable! They set the tone for the evening playing during cocktails and dinner. Everyone said it was like being at an exclusive supper/jazz club in New York City. Thank you Ray, et al.

    Jan Anter (Claire Anter & Sean Vanidestine)
    Oct 2, 2010

    Thanks again for your service. We enjoyed the music of Ray Porrello and Fine Jazz.

    Modesto Ruggiero, The Ruggiero Group Holiday Party
    Dec 5, 2008
    Cleveland Reniassance

    Good selection of music – enjoyed them very much!

    Kathy Kooyman, Martha Holden Jennings Foundation
    Aug 4, 2006
    Marriott Cleveland East

    Far exceeded our expectations. My wife and I are both former musicians, lovers of jazz, and New Yorkers, so our expectations were high, and Ray was fantastic. As good or better than any New York group. We give them our highest recommendation.

    Ethan Basch and Joy Goodwin
    Jul 15, 2006
    Private Residence

    I was very impressed with the Ray Porrello Trio! They are true musicians – you can tell they love playing, and that enthusiasm inspires the crowd!

    Gayle Marek
    May 27, 2006
    The Bertram Inn

    From the booking until the end of our event, all details were handled in a professional manner and the musicians did an excellent job of entertaining at our event.

    Nancy Foor
    Mar 3, 2006
    Hyatt Regency at the Arcade