Our Story



Dr. Rackle And The Sound Griots was formed in 1995 by Raymond "Dr. Rackle" Williams, Sr. in Hartford, Connecticut. Raymond was given the name Dr. Rackle by his teacher and mentor Jackie McLean, who is also known as Dr. Jackle. The song "The Griot", recorded on Jackie McLean's Album "Fire And Love" which was released by Bluenote Records, was composed by Williams, who was just becoming a member of McLean's band in 1993. The "Griot" was written in reference to McLean, as the term "griot" means a knowledgeable and wise person who passes that knowledge on to the community through music, poem, and storytelling. Williams mentioned to McLean (The Griot), a few years later, his vision of starting his own band, and was set on naming the band, "The Raymond Williams Quintet"' McLean suggested to Williams that he name the band "Dr. Rackle And The Sound Griots". 

Dr. Rackle And The Sound Griots has performed extensively throughout Connecticut since its formation until October 2000, when Williams moved back to his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. Williams started the band again in 2001, performing in many New Orleans venues such as Bean Brothers, Snug Harbor, The Zeitgeist Multidisciplinary Arts Center in a tribute concert to Jackie McLean, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2003 and 2005. Due to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, Williams had to disband the group and has been working extensively with the Hot 8 Brass Band and as a freelance musician in various bands. This year Dr. Rackle has his heart set on forming the Sound Griots again, to bring the traditional, modern and contemporary jazz sound, to include bebop, modal, free form, and funk, to audiences everywhere. Dr. Rackle And The Sound Griots performs original music, as well as the music of Jackie McLean, Ellis Marsalis, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock as well as many other jazz greats. 

Dr. Rackle And The Sound Griots are currently available for tours, club dates, parties, weddings, concerts, Festivals, Clinics, Workshops, residencies, master classes and private lessons. 

Dr. Rackle can be contacted at: Phone numbers: (504) 373-3178, e-mail: drrackle@gmail.com 

Trumpeter, Composer, Arranger, Educator 

Raymond Williams, Sr. was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 2, 1961. He became interested in the trumpet at age 11 after seeing neighbors trumpeter Willie Thompson and drummer Johnny Thompson playing in the backyard. He ran inside and excitedly told he parents he wanted to play the trumpet like Louis Armstrong. Within a week his mother brought home a trumpet and his grandfather showed him how to get a sound out of the horn. In school he played in school bands (marching, concert, funk, jazz and brass ensembles). His brothers and sisters also played instruments, motivating Raymond to pursue a life in music. He spent his formative years working in some of New Orleans' most respected big bands and brass bands and studying under Ellis Marsalis at the New Orleans Center of Creative Arts (NOCCA). 
Raymond's burning desire to carry on his proud New Orleans trumpet heritage caused him to pull up his roots in his native town and settle in Hartford, Connecticut in 1986 to study with Jackie McLean at the HARTT School of Music, where Raymond gained an excellent reputation as one of the New England region's most versatile and in-demand trumpet players. 
Raymond's versatility and inborn leadership qualities have helped him flourish as an instrumentalist, composer and bandleader. These qualities eventually caught the attention of his teacher and mentor, jazz great Jackie McLean, who eventually asked Raymond to join his sextet. 
Since his debut with the Jackie McLean Sextet at The Village Vanguard in December 1993, Raymond has gone on to delight audiences around the world at many major festivals, concert and club venues. His recording debut on Jackie McLean's new release, Fire and Love, has Raymond contributing two compositions. 
In addition to playing with Jackie McLean, Raymond has also lead his own groups, including Dr. Rackle and The Sound Griots, performing dynamic originals and fresh takes on standards, and The Artist Collective-based award-winning band Collective Expression (1989-2000), a group of talented protégés of legendary alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of American's true artform, which he also led from 1994-2000. Collective Expression received The Hartford Advocate's Best-of-the-Bands award for Best Acoustic Jazz in 1992. Past and present members include Jimmy Green (tenor sax -Horace Silver Quintet), Abraham Burton (alto sax-Arthur Tailor's Wailers), Nat Reeves (bassist -Kenny Garrett Quartet), Alan Palmer (piano -Jackie McLean Sextet/Quintet and Roy Hargrove Quintet), Eric McPherson (drums Jackie McLean Sextet/Quintet and Abraham Burton Quartet), Cassius Richmond (alto sax/flute Rodney Whitaker Quintet and James Carter Quintet). 

Other activities in Hartford included instructor, conductor and arranger for the Artists Collective Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Youth Jazz Orchestra, which performed for President Clinton twice, when he visited Hartford in October 1996 for the Presidential Debate, and in November 1999 as part of his "Rescue the Cities" campaign. He was also coordinator and instructor at the Artists Collective summer program; trumpet instructor of the Artists Collective; trumpeter and assistant conductor of the Hartt Concert Jazz Band, jazz trumpet instructor and instructor of jazz ensembles at the Hartt School of Music. He also performed with Jackie & Rene McLean in a presentation by the Thelonious Monk Institute with Bobby Watson and Lisa Henry at Weaver High School in Hartford, Ct., introducing high school students to jazz, in a pilot program for Hartford High Schools in the Spring of 2000. 

In 2000 Raymond moved back to New Orleans, where he keeps busy performing and recording with many of that city's Brass Bands, including Treme with Kirk Joseph (formerly of the Dirty Dozen), Kirk Joseph & the Backyard Groove (with whom he has also recorded); Tornado, Forgotten Souls, The Original New Orleans Royal Players, Eddie Boh Paris Funky Seven, Leroy Jones's Hurricane and The Hot 8, which performed at New Orleans Saints home games during the 2001-02 and 2004 football season, the New Orleans Saints 2010 Superbowl party in Miami, Fl., and with whom he recently recorded. He is also leading a group called Dr. Rackle and the Sound Griots, which is working on an upcoming recording project and has worked in other groups around town such as Kenneth Plaisance, Delfayeo Marsalis's Uptown Orchestra, Greg Stafford and the Jazz Hounds with Dr. Michael White, and Sullivan Dabney. He has also recorded with Anders Osborne & Big Chief Monk Boudreaux for their CD entitled Bury the Hatchet, Jambalaya Brass Band. 
He has traveled to Europe and Asia, performing with Eddie Boh Paris and the Funky Seven Brass Band, at the Umbria and Ancona Jazz Festivals and in Venice, Italy in 2004 and with the Original New Orleans Royal Players Brass Band in China and at Linna & Pori Jazz Festivals in Finland in 2003. Raymond has performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2001-2002 with Tornado Brass, in 2002-2012 with the Hot 8 Brass Band and performing with Lauryn Hill with the Hot 8 in 2011, in 2003 and 2005 with his own group -Dr. Rackle & The Sound Griots in the Bell South WWOZ Jazz Tent. He also performed with his own group at the Zeitgeist Multidisciplinary Arts Center for their Zeitgeist Creative Music Festival in a tribute to Jackie McLean. Dr. Rackle & The Sound Griots also performed in Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro in June 2005. In April 2012, Raymond was the special guest in the Remembering Jackie McLean tribute concert at The South Dallas Cultural Center in Dallas, TX. Other New Orleans venues where he has appeared include the Satchmo Summerfest, the Essence Festival, the House of Blues, French Quarter Festival, the Blue Nile, DBA, the Howlin’ Wolf, the Sugarmill, Harrah’s Casino, Tipitina’s, Preservation Hall, Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, and the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Museum to name a few. 

Raymond also appears in the feature film Ray, directed by Taylor Hackford as a member of Ray Charles' band, also appeared in Spike Lee's Documentary, When The Levees Broke and the second season of the HBO series Treme. He was also the Musical Director and Arranger for a play in San Francisco, CA in September 2007 entitled Stardust and Empty Wagons-Stories from the Katrina Diaspora: From the Testimonies of Bay Area Survivors with Artistic Director, Ellen Gavin. 
He is currently available for tours, club dates, concerts, festivals, clinics, workshops, residencies, master classes and private lessons. 
He can be contacted at: 

Phone number: (504) 373-3178
E-mail: drrackle@gmail.com 


INFLUENCES: Jackie McLean, Ellis Marsalis, Earl Turbinton, Hotep Galeta, Rene McLean, Barry Harris, Dr. Micheal White, Leroy Jones, Greg Stafford, Wendell Brunious, Bennie Jones, Willie Metcalf, Willie Singleton, Dalton Rousseau,