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© Ray Chester Big Band 2007
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New CD  released March 09.....sound tracks can be heard here
MillView Social club March 26th 2010 all proceeds to St Bendict's Hospice.......... review of gig here

Ray's funeral took place on 1st February 2013
Rays popularity and quirks were highlighted in a magnificent tribute at a packed Crematorium in Sunderland. All the seats were taken which meant the remaining people had to squash themselves in at the rear of the hall.At times amusing, I can imagine Ray chuckling in the background at some of the comments that were forthcoming during the service. Poems and fond memories were amongst some of the warmest and uplifting thoughts ever heard at such a service.Colin Haikney(piano) and Graham Hardy (trumpet) played a superb rendition of Ray's signature tune "Whats New".....the throngs of people immediately bursting into rapturous applause at the close. A track from Ray's CD recorded at the Alexandria pub in 2004 highlighted the magnificence of the band and Rays own arrangement of "The folks who live on the hill" beautifully sung by Mia Webb......I noticed a few people reaching for the tissues as it concluded. To the strains of "Gabriel's Oboe" the curtains closed and the coffin disappeared from view...........FAREWELL.
As a former dep for the band, myself and thousands of others whom have had the opportunity not only to play Ray's arrangements but were graced by his company....... WE CAN ONLY SAY THE MUSIC BUSINESS HAS LOST A doubt he will scribbling away writing new arrangements as this is being written..........I can only say you're in for a treat up there.....just remember not to leave your cases lying around as Ray is bound to trip over it !!!!

It is with great sadness that members of Ray's family and representatives of the band broke the news that the concert at the Customs House on the 23rd June 2013 will be the last performance ever of the

If you didn't already know, the band was one of the longest surviving bands in Britain with only one of the original members left playing........    a tribute to his musicianship and consistency,
Don Fairley.
Throughout the years the band has seen a number of changes in its line up, not through changes in personnel but deps needed to cover for absence and illness.
I am sure Ray would like to thank all those players whom have helped promote the band and in turn the satisfaction and enjoyment of the musicians playing those wonderful and magical arrangements.
The legacy left by Ray will continue as he blessed so many musicians people's lives.
The band's vast library has been donated to the Sage (Gateshead), to be used for various music projects at the centre and fittingly should remain in the North East.
Many aspiring musicians are going to be extremely lucky to be playing some of the best arrangements ever by one of the country's top arrangers
people wishing to leave a tribute for Ray can do so by

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