Mike Freeman Blog

Ray Mantilla

Ray Mantilla
June 22, 1934 - March 21, 2020:

Another musical colleague and friend has passed. I worked in Ray’s bands over the past 18 years. We spent untold hours traveling and performing together and shared some great times. In between gigs was always an adventure. Over the years I heard countless stories of his musical collaborations that were truly remarkable. I wish I could remember half of them. He was one of those last remaining icons of a bygone era of music. He could be maddening at times but was also an endearing spirit. Many of us thought he was leaving this world a few years ago but in a testament to his domineering power and musical spirit he made a remarkable recovery to come back and perform right up to last month. Still full of energy following his 85th birthday last June, he performed as part of a concert I produced at the Times Center last July. Along with his regular Jazz Foundation gigs, he recorded a yet to be released CD for Savant Records last October.

His passing from cancer at this time of coronavirus concerns/rules/protocols sadly meant that friends were unable to visit him during his last days at the hospital. And that any memorial must be postponed to a later time.

Farewell Ray Mantilla you will be greatly missed.

*To Be Clear, Please Note: Ray passed from cancer not from coronavirus. He was battling cancer on and off for years. It was because of Coronavirus concerns/rules/protocol that friends could not visit him during his last days in the hospital.