Image of Ray McKinley.

Ray McKinley

(drums) 1910 - 1995

Born in Forth Worth Texas, June 18, 1910 Ray McKinley first came to national notice with the Dorsey Brothers in 1934. Glenn Miller was also part of this band in the trombone section and arranger. When the brothers split the following year McKinley stayed with Jimmy and was featured as both drummer and novelty vocalist with emphasis on his texan drawl style.

In 1939 with some encouragement from leading promoter Willard Alexander drummer McKinley and trombonist Will Bradley teamed up to form an orchestra which for nearly three years attained some success with a series of Boogie Woogie big band arrangements. Then with the problems of wartime draft and some musical differences the orchestra disbanded in early 1942. McKinley enlisted in the Army Air Corps and by mid 1943 became part of the Army Airforce Orchestra led by his old ex-Dorsey Brothers colleague Glenn Miller.

After a period of training and meticulous rehearsals the AAF orchestra renamed the American Orchestra of the Allied Expeditionary Force left for England in june 1944 where it remained till the tragic disappearance of the leader in December. McKinley also acted as leader of a smaller essentially hot orchestra drawn from the larger group ranks known as the Swing Shift and also a smaller unit The Uptown Hall Gang. The AEF orchestra moved to Paris where it continued to entertain the troops before returning to the US in October of 1945 where it was disbanded.

The now demobilised McKinley was again button holed by band manager/promoter Willard Alexander who persuaded him to team with the very advanced composer/arranger Eddie Sauter who had attained prominence with Red Norvo before the war and later with Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. It was a bold move and at first was successful with the orchestra playing important New York Hotels and Ballrooms and records like "Tumblebug" and "Borderline" but the combination of swinging standards arranged by Deane Kincaide and the occasionally out of tempo Sauter originals made it hard going for the dancing public. By 1948 and now on Victor Records the band increasingly turned to novelties and heavily featured the infectious vocal style of McKinley on numbers like "Civilisation" and their minor hit "You Came a Long Way from St Louis". The downturn in the band business caused him to disband in 1951.

After playing with several bands in and around New York, as a result of the "Glenn Miller Story" film success and the general reawakened interest in the Miller legend, he was invited by the Estate to lead the reformed Miller Orchestra which he did with distinction till 1966. Thereafter he remained active playing with swing or dixie style units well into the 70s and died in Florida, May 7, 1995.

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RAY McKINLEY and his Orchestra

"The Class of '49"

A collection of Deane Kincaide and Eddie Sauter arrangements recorded in 1949 featuring Mundell Lowe and Vern Friley.

Titles - It's Only A Paper Moon/ Celery Stalks At Midnight / The Carioca / I Kiss Your Hand Madame / Hard Hearted Hannah / How High The Moon / Along With Me / Blue Moon / Hoodle Addle / Jiminy Cricket / Lullabye In Rhythm / Soon / Arizay / Borderline / Stompin' At The Savoy / Pancho Maximillian Hernandez / Down The Road Apiece / Harlem Nocturne / Red Silk Stockings & Green Perfume / Pete's Cafe / Stardust / I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues / Laura / I'm waiting For The Evening Mail / Don't Be That Way.

Price includes postage & packaging per order: £8.99

Ray McKinley - "Borderline"

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artists @ Hep Jazz