A. Ray Fuller - The Weeper


From the first note, “The Weeper” strokes his guitar elegantly with traces of familiar influences that are soulful while enchanting melodies echo enriching and promising qualities as a guitarist. A. Ray “The Weeper” Fuller’s time has arrived as a soloist and composer, an emerging artist, a jazz guitarist to look and listen out for, now and in the future.  

The Players: A. Ray Fuller ~ All Guitars, Bill Steinway ~ Piano/Keys, Moyes Lucas ~ Drums, Larry Kimpel ~ Bass, Walt Flower ~ Flugel Horn, Dave Kochanski ~ Rhodes, Everette Harp ~ Saxes, Kevin Richards ~ Drums, Teddy Campbell ~ Drums, Phil Perry ~ Lead Vocals, Michele Cox ~ Background Vocals, George Duke ~ Rhodes, Michael White ~ Drums, Terry Trotter ~ Piano – Intro “Superstar”, Rickey Lawson Drums, Jimmy Reid ~ Saxes, Branford Marsalis ~ Tenor Sax “Naima”, Terry Lynn Carrington ~ Drums “Naima”, Earnest Tibbs ~ Bass, Alex Al ~ Bass, George Duke ~ Rhodes Solo “Friday”, Jeff Lorber ~ Keys & Production, and Eric Marienthal ~ Saxes. 

On my first listen, too “The Weeper” by Ray Fuller “ I was a little apprehensive about listening to a record that contained seven cover tunes.  To my surprise the opener, “If You Really Love” (originally written by Wonder and Wright) eventually left me spellbound by Fuller’s illusive technique as a guitar stylist. It’s almost like he teases you while drawing you inside the music at the same time.  

Next up, “Weeper’s Thang” penned by Fuller and keyboardist Dave Kochanski featuring saxman Everette Harp. Fuller’s funky poetic guitar riffs keep the melody on track, his Benson like musings can only bring a smile to your face with each stroke of the guitar.  

Spanish Flyer” falls into the 3rd spot, Fuller & Kochanski collaborates once again as co-songwriters with another tasty yet jazziest offering so far. Spanish Flyer displays Fuller’s artistry as a soloist, Ray’s chops are sweet, his graceful licks supports a nicely written mid-tempo tune by the guitarist accented by a terrific supporting cast of players. 

The jazzy flow continues with a self-penned composition by Fuller entitled “Speaker Brother”. This track has just the right twist much like the others on the set, in the meantime Fuller again lures you into the groove with his superb guitar playing sparkled by colorful background vocals “Speak Brother, speak to me, tell your truth, And you’ll be free, Speak Brother, Respectfully, Tell no lie … complimented by George Duke’s Rhodes solo. 

Work To Do” originally by the Isley Brothers comes in at the five. Fuller taps into the pulse of this R&B classic featuring the consummate Phil Perry on vocals. Ray’s lead and rhythm guitar along with Perry’s vocal foreplay accurately brings the groove on track with a proper dose of stability. 

At the 6th spot is a L. Russell Bramlett composition entitled “Superstar”. After hearing, this tune by Fuller, I immediately return to the music rack and pulled out Luther Vandross’es version of this classic. Initially at the beginning of the track, (you’d never know that “Superstar”) pianist Terry Trotter opens the piece beautifully the echoing vocalese of Phil Perry creeps in pulling you into this seductive yet atmospheric piece. Fuller’s guitar styling trickles romantic melodies and suddenly I have a clue of why Ray is called the “Weeper” (Saxman Jimmy Reid solos are a warm addition as well). Ray’s version of Superstar is simply outstanding! 

At some point every jazz musician must tackle a John Coltrane tune so why not Naima? When you bring on the talents of saxophonist Branford Marsalis and arrangement by Terry Lynn Carrington it’s bound to be a winner. Pianist Terry Trotter lends a helping hand as well with Walt Flower on the flugel horn as soloist and this arrangement makes Naima well worth the visit. 

Fuller along with musician producer Jeff Lorber team up as writing partners on a track entitled “Friday”. As you can imagine this track, has the right hooks and depth-layered with a spoon full of flavor is bound to turn the heads of radio programmers everywhere. 

Portuguese Love” originally by vocalist Tina Marie is another R&B classic that adorns this set of appealing guitar wizardry of Ray Fuller. I’ve always wanted to hear and instrumental version of this tune and now we have an opportunity to embrace “Portuguese Love” in a perfect atmosphere with the story telling guitar stylings of Ray Fuller makes it well worthwhile. 

She Walks This Earth”, written by Lins, Russell, Martins and Cesar. This is my least favorite on the set however, Fuller’s enthusiasm as a leader manages to make it work, featuring the talented saxman Eric Marienthal. 

One thing that dwells in the forefront of Ray Fuller’s playing is he’s doing his thang “Weepin” having a darn good time. “Free Spirit” by bassist Larry Kimpel and M. Seward is one of many examples of what Ray’s playing and interaction with first call players can do when allowed too partake in the groove.  

Partido Alto” written by Bertrame and Melheiros of the dynamic Brazilian jazz trio Azymuth. This is without a doubt is my favorite overall track on “The Weeper”. Partido Alto is funky, upbeat; vibrant full of juice that showcases Fuller’s jazz guitar abilities to the max. Fuller’s instrumental voice communicates fluidly with a spirited vocabulary relating too his audience without distortion yet maintaining his presence in full command of his instrument at all times.   

A remix of “Speak Brother” returns in the final spot of “The Weeper” to close things out with another twist of Ray’s tasty and very soulful guitar licks. Ray comments: George Duke was featured on a Rhodes solo on the 2nd version (track #13) in place of the guitar solo on the first version.

Fuller’s vision as a soloist and composer has undeniably come to life on his long awaited debut appropriately titled “The Weeper”. Amazingly enough A. RayThe WeeperFuller has molded and sculptured seven classic songs into the essence of “The Weeper” therefore, giving each song note for note his own voice collectively. Ray’s gift as a guitarist is apparent, and his composing skills are nothing to sneeze at, and to top it off he sweetens’ up the stew with five originals topping things off with his signature blend of seasoning to add the perfect combination of spices too his debut called “The Weeper”.


Recommended for lovers of good music everywhere!