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Hugh Ragin

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Best known for capably filling the problematic trumpet chair in saxophonist David Murray's various large ensembles, Hugh Ragin possesses the well-rounded technique and abundant imagination that his predecessors in those bands did not. A harmonically daring player, Ragin combines the clear, ringing tone of a classical trumpeter with the chops and rhythmic ingenuity of a top-notch bebopper. Ragin was raised in Houston, TX. He began playing trumpet in eighth grade, and shortly thereafter began taking private lessons. He started playing classical music, yet at the same time was drawn to jazz. Ragin received schoolboy honors in music (traveling to England and Wales with the Houston All-City High School Orchestra) then attended the University of Houston, where he received his bachelor's degree in music education. Trumpeter Donald Byrd influenced Ragin around this time. Ragin attended Colorado State University, receiving his master's in classical trumpet performance. In late 1978, he attended the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY, where he studied composition with Roscoe Mitchell. The following summer, he played the annual jazz festival in Moers, Germany, with the Roscoe Mitchell/Leo Smith Creative Orchestra. Later that year, he toured with Anthony Braxton. Since then, Ragin has periodically traveled to Europe to perform and teach. Ragin first met Murray in 1980; he toured with Maynard Ferguson throughout 1983. In 1985, Murray brought him to New York to play in his band. The two have been close musical associates ever since. Ragin has remained somewhat of a marginal figure, mostly due to the fact that he's lived in the middle of the U.S., away from the major jazz scenes on either coast. When he has led a recording session, it's been first class. On his 1999 album An Afternoon in Harlem (Justin Time), he's joined by Murray, drummer Andrew Cyrille, and pianist Craig Taborn. He followed with more releases for Justin Time: Fanfare & Fiesta in 2001 and Feel the Sunshine in 2002. Ragin has taught extensively, including a stint at Oberlin College in Ohio. ~ Chris Kelsey

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United States

Years Active:

'80s, '90s, '00s