Roy Ayers - vibraphone, composer, bandleader, recording artist
Roy Ayers was during the 1960s one of the most prominent and leading jazz vibraphone players in America. During the 1970s and 80s he came to change his focus and became one of the leading figures in R&B and jazz/funk. The 1990s has once again brought him into a new direction and he is now regarded being one of the greatest innovators of the acid jazz movement. His music has often been described as being years ahead of it's time.
Ayers was born on September 10, 1940, in Los Angeles, California. Thanks to the influence of his mother, a piano teacher, and his father, a trombone player, Ayers was a musical child. His introduction to the vibraphone came at the age of six, when his parents took him to a Lionel Hampton concert. After the show, Hampton handed Ayers a pair of mallets, sealing the youngster's musical destiny with that simple gesture. It was not until he was 17 years old that Ayers finally got a chance to play the vibraphone, which he claims had been his favorite instrument all along.
By the early 1960s, Ayers was playing regularly with a number of local performers, including such fixtures on the Los Angeles jazz scene as Teddy Edwards, Chico Hamilton, and Jack Wilson. This experience soon gave Ayers the necessary confidence to become a band leader. His first opportunity to record in that capacity came in 1963, on a project called “West Coast Vibes,” released by United Artists. In 1966 Ayers, at the invitation of bassist Reggie Workman, sat in on a gig with Herbie Mann and his Quintet, at the Lighthouse, a prominent Los Angeles jazz club. Mann was so impressed with his work that he immediately made Ayers a permanent member of the group. Ayers toured and recorded with Mann for the next four years, a period that included the release of Mann's smash hit LP, “Memphis Underground” During this stint, Ayers also recorded three solo albums--all produced by Mann: “Daddy Bug,” “Virgo Red,” and “Stoned Soul Picnic.”