Ray Santisi

Professor
617 747-2279

"I tell my students, 'Whatever your background is—Asian, Latin, African American—you have a voice that comes through DNA; it comes through your culture. So look for that, and protect it, and try to nurture it, not only for its wonderful basic roots, and extend your technical knowledge to enhance that.'"

"To add spontaneity, I say, 'Okay, you're in a recording studio now. You're playing a concert. Here's the tempo. Play.' I tell students to push aside technical intricacies, try to sidestep 'analysis paralysis,' pull in their training, and just use the ear. It's a total immersion, letting go of the theoretical material and making learning more of a call-and-response situation."

"One of the hardest things to learn is to be instantly responsive, to complement what's being played spontaneously by the soloist. I remember learning that lesson early on with Charlie Parker. We were playing a session—the tune was 'I'll Remember April.' Being young, I thought I'd show off and play a lot of chords and stuff. Here I am with an icon, trying to show off, and he stops me cold with, 'Wait a minute. I want to be able to stop anywhere in this tune, and what you're playing should fit,' meaning that the harmony should be there."

Career Highlights

 

  • Alumnus, Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory of Music
  • Recordings for Capitol, Prestige, Sonnet, Roulette, and United Artists
  • Guest performer with many name artists in various venues such as Carnegie Hall, jazz clubs, Boston Symphony Hall, museums, cruises, etc.
  • Guest lecturer, teacher, and performer for Berklee on the Road and BIN tours worldwide
  • Author of Jazz Originals for Piano
  • Recipient of National Endowment for the Arts grants and awards for composition and performance
  • Performer agent for many student and faculty engagements throughout New England
  • Former resident pianist with the Boston Pops and Boston Symphony Orchestra chamber jazz-pop group Wuz