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Ray Skjelbred And His Cubs
(l-r) Clint Baker, Kim Cusak, Katie Cavera, Ray Skjelbred, Jeff Hamilton

Biographical Entry #1

Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs play hot Chicago jazz mixed with New Orleans influences, early swing and plenty of blues. Each musician in this five piece group ---Ray Skjelbred, piano; Kim Cusack, clarinet; Clint Baker, bass; Katie Cavera, guitar; and Jeff Hamilton, drums--- is notable in the current traditional jazz scene. They have many years of playing experience and a strong historic sense of the music they have set out to perform.The International Association of Jazz Record Collectors Journal said, " For small-group Chicago-style, it doesn't get any better than this."

To engage Ray Skjelbred as a piano soloist,
or his Quartet (Katie Cavera, Clint Baker and Jeff Hamilton)
or his band "Ray Skjelbred and his Cubs"
(Katie, Clint, Jeff plus the great Kim Cusack on clarinet),
or his other group "The Yeti Chasers"
(Steve Wright, Dave Brown, Mike Daugherty)

Contact Ray Skjelbred at

"Greetings From Chicago"
the new CD by

Ray Skjelbred And His Cubs

Now available at

Jazzology Records

cubs cd

Biographical Entry #2

Actually I'm just a neighborhood kid growing up in Chicago and growing older in Seattle, all at the same time! I have generally thought of myself as an English teacher first, then pianist and poet. My life has had the human influence of family, farmers, cowboys, baseball players, actors, writers and musicians, but perhaps I feel most affected  by rivers, forests and mountains.

I listen to red-winged blackbirds, wooden bats hitting baseballs, wind moving through poplar trees and dog yawns. Also music---Norwegian Hardanger fiddle music, Tibetan horns, Charles Ives, old cowboys and jazz. I always lean toward sounds that reassure me of the truth and beauty of the world we inhabit.

Burt Bales

Burt Bales

I love music that shows passion, daring and surprise. For me, the pianists I admire who most represent these ideas and to whom I listen most often are Earl Hines, Jess Stacy, Joe Sullivan, Mary Lou Williams, Art Hodes, Thelonious Monk, Zinky Cohn, George Zack, Cassino Simpson, Horace Henderson, Frank Melrose, Jimmy Yancey, Big Maceo, Bill Evans, Burt Bales, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Paul Lingle, Alex Hill, Sir Charles Thompson and Eddie Whitley.

I am proud that my father came from Norway, that my mother's family consisted of farmers in Wisconsin and that my wife and children are good guides and partners in my life.


He plays so good it scares me. - Jess Stacy

Tremendous ability and imagination - Turk Murphy

Ray's playing is the ultimate illustration of jazz as the "sound of surprise.'" - Hal Smith

No money can pay your true value - Barbara Dane

What an honor, Ray! I listen to this cd (Pass the Jug) so often and it gets better each time. How could it go wrong with the genius of Ray Skjelbred.

- Ida Melrose, daughter of "Kansas City" Frank Melrose

...the nearest to Art Hodes I've ever heard.

- John G. Featherstone (Storyville Magazine)

Jess Reincarnate. - Dick Neeld (Jersey Jazz)

In Ray Skjelbred we have another two-handed pianist whose inspirational melodic vision is partnered by a driving left-hand that needs no bass or drums to prop it up.

- Clarrie Henley (Jersey Jazz)

You are really a great musician and authentic jazzman.

- John Simmen, Swiss jazz critic.

I really appreciate the depth and soul of your playing. - Bill Carter

Like any good Chicagoan he always plays hard for right now...

- Richard Hadlock

The sheer range of Skjelbred's mastery is impressive, but his application of jazz taste and historic awareness (in context of the styles) is equally dazzling.

- William J. Schaefer (Pass the Jug review, Mississippi Rag)

Burt Bales 2

Burt Bales performing at Pier 23, 1959


"Ray Skjelbred's Got It!"
Michael Steinman's Jazz Lives Blog

Read it Here!