Ray Shulman was born on December 8 1949, as the younger of three boys to a family of Scottish-Jewish descent in Portsmouth, England. With his brothers, Derek, and Phil, the progressive rock group Gentle Giant was active from 1970 to 1980.
Ray was Gentle Giant’s bassist, while also playing trumpet, violin, viola, cello, vocals, drums, percussion, recorder, guitar, and one of the main composers. He is known for his quadraphonic violin solos that sonically circled the concert hall as he played.
As a bassist, Ray is perhaps one of the most underrated in rock. Thomas Wictor, in his column “Unsung Bass Stylists” (Bass Player Magazine, January/February 1994), writes about Ray’s performance on Playing The Fool:Ray Shulman certainly qualifies as one of the most creative and innovative bassists ever. He weaves unbelievably complex and confounding lines that draw on medieval, classical, funk, rock, and jazz influences. His attack often sounds like a cross between picking and slapping, adding intensity and power to his already unforgettable licks. “Free Hand,” from its syncopated intro to its thunderous finale, is a textbook example of how this brilliant musician improvises and plays off the other members of the band to produce a stunning live performance.Gentle Giant Music
The Aristipposian Poet
Happy Birthday, Ray Shulman!
in celebration of his musicality with Gentle Giant
December 7 at 11:30pm EST
“Gentle Giant” (debut album) 1970
A collective effort with influences of rock, blues, classical, and 1960s British soul
“Acquiring the Taste” (second album) 1971
This album was more experimental and dissonant. It is shaped primarily by Kerry Minnear’s broad classical and contemporary classical music ideas.
“Three Friends” (third album) 1972
Their first concept album, based on the theme of three boys growing together, and then apart. Their differences are exemplified in the integrated music styles which develop gradually throughout the album.