The Dwarf, Australia
Album Review: The Ray Mann Three: Sketches (MGM)
Fri 07 June, 2013
Reviewed By Harrison Orchard
Sketches is not just an album; created by musician Ray Mann, it is an ‘innovative, music-art piece’. Beginning in late 2011, Sketches was a project that incorporated the communities experience with each song released. On the third day of each month, a new song from The Ray Mann Three was released on Vimeo. Sometimes, the video and song were incomplete, and it was the community’s task to help complete the video by creating a video response. The final video then contained elements from outstanding video responses from the audience. In essence, each video was completed by both the artist and the admirers.
Such innovation sets artists apart in today’s increasingly changing music landscape. Gone are the days of the ‘single, single, album, tour’ method. Artists are constantly trying to come up with new and different ways for the audience to engage with the music. Look no further than Phoenix, who recently released songs for the audience to remix in a competition. Such understanding of modern music release displays an artist’s understanding
Sketches is the band’s second album after their well-lauded self-titled album from 2008, which showcased off the trio’s real potential. Despite, the success of the debut, things went quiet for the band, with personal issues and even having a band member leaving for a different three piece (John Butler and Co). However, Ray turned the situation around and has made a triumphant comeback. The new album is a lot of the same offered with the debut, but with added emotiveness and silky-smooth soul.
Their innovation has not just stopped at the method of release but also the music itself. What the band has created is a new brand of soul that takes many of the old soul foundations and puts them through a process of modernising and hipsterfying – and it sounds great. The music is ultra-smooth soul, with a funky and bluesy mood, just the kind of music that can be put on to transport the listener to a land of uber-coolness. This is a record for all Soul fans to invest, with smooth hitting drum lines and guitar riffs to get you shaking your hips in tune. ‘Babylon’ is a hard hitting, swagger inducing single towards the front of the album, which sets the tone and mood for the rest of the album to come, ‘Who’s loving you’ follows shortly after, furthering the experience whilst increasing tempo and with some sweet backing vocals, this will certainly get you singing along. Finally, ‘Bleeding’ towards the end of the album will certainly seduce you into replaying the album again and again. The perfect album to play when entertaining house guests and getting them moving in turn.
Soul is experience something of a comeback with many artists adopting grooves and bounce that add a soulful mature touch to an album. While going down a soul path can be rewarding, often it can sound like a band is doing a Marvin Gaye colour-by-numbers and released generic tunes that sound like tiresome attempts at revivalism. This just adds an additional challenge for the musician – to create something completely unique and trendsetting. The Ray Man Three have done just that.
Rip It Up, Australia
Album Review: The Ray Mann Three: Sketches (MGM)
Sun March 03, 2013
Reviewed By Luke Balzan
I was a huge fan of The Ray Mann Three’s first self-titled album from 2008, seeing real potential in the music and the players. However, after an impressive response, things started to go a little quiet. The Three’s original bass player defaulted to another famous three, the John Butler Trio, and Ray Mann found himself dealing with a range of issues… it seemed as though things were over for The Ray Mann Three. However, rather than let the issues be the end of him, Ray turned the situation around and has come back, stronger than ever, with a newbie, Sketches, and it’s every bit as impressive as the debut, but comes with the added bonus of extra sincerity and a more definitive brand of soul. Sketches is everything I loved about Ray Mann’s first album, with even more on offer. The music is ultra-smooth soul, with a funky and bluesy undercurrent, and is the sort of thing that you can slide right into and be taken on a soulful journey. This is definitely a fine effort! 3.5/5
702 ABC Sydney, Australia
Minimalist funkster comes home from Berlin
02 December, 2012
Written by Yuske Aso
It was a relatively low-key return. “The Ray Mann Three is back after a hiatus,” announced a PR email one day. Yeah? Been a few years, that’s for sure. I read on. “Ray has spent the last year in Berlin..” I didn’t even know he’d left in the first place. Tony Buck, Expatriate… now Raymond Wassef (aka Ray Mann). What is with Berlin? Better find out.
I roped them in once before, soon after their last (and eponymous debut) album. That would’ve been, like, 2009. I remember that I was a little worried at the time their funkiness might come across somehow too raw in a live-in-studio setting, and asked them to play a more obviously melodic ballad like Smile, as well as Opa Opa, which on a first listen was, like, skeletal. The thing is, that’s exactly the point – they don’t fill the space created by a basic three-piece of guitar, bass and drums, because there is no need to.
Ray says he likes to keep it spare. It must take some guts to resist temptation. I’d opine that it underlines his depth of understanding of what funk is, which imho runs counter to the oft-bandied-about notion of funky being hot and sweaty and loud (think James Brown’s full-throttle shout or Wilson Pickett’s Land of 1,000 Dances). To me, funky has more to do with cool, albeit with a certain kind of swagger. I’m thinking Prince’s Sign Of The Times. Or Parliament’s P-Funk.
When The Ray Mann Three came in the other day, they played Babylon live in Blue Room. It’s a classic RMT haiku funk, but now even catchier. It’s abundantly clear that Ray’s twelve months in Berlin have done a world of good, for his songwriting had matured so much.
Ray’s still into DIY video clips (he said $50 was still the best budget!), and you can check out the clip for Babylon here. The band website, in fact, has clips for every song on the new album, Sketches. Enough gasbagging, signing off…
The Ray Mann Three, The Khanz, Briscoe
Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
24 November, 2012
Written by Andrew McDonald
After a small delay, Ray Mann walked on stage on his own and meekly told the crowd he wanted to show them how his latest record, Sketches, was made. He said it all started with him just singing to his computer – and he proceeded to do just that. A sexy, ultra-modern urban soul song followed, set entirely to artificial electronica from his laptop. Midway through, the remainder of the Three walked on and picked up the groove as the synth tones died out. It was a gorgeous and powerful way to open a set – not only showing how the songs became what they are, but also letting the audience hear vastly different versions of Mann’s music. This became a theme for the set, as the trio ebbed and flowed from funky, drum and bass-driven soul pieces to more guitar-oriented jam efforts, occasionally even reminiscent of Frank Zappa’s fusion work.
The audience never quite got down with the enthusiasm Mann was asking for, but it would be hard to fault the Three for their efforts on the night.
Read the full story here.
Spire Focus, Australia
LP Review – The Ray Mann Three – Sketches (2012)
Innovation is alive and well in the music industry. Sydney musician Ray Mann recently relocated to Berlin and came up with an inventive way to collaborate with his fans for his new album. Inviting people to send him ideas and sketches for videos, Ray expanded on these and produced a new video every month for 9 months, with the common theme centred around change. He then added 6 new unreleased tracks to the 9 videos and created (with the help of backing bass and drums) his new album titled Sketches.
The album showcases Ray’s solid groove and broad array of sounds. The warm bass and steady drum grooves lead Ray’s clean guitar and airy vocals through a mixture of warm melodies, combining up-beat moments with chilled out vibes.
Although tracks Soapbox and Bleeding instil a slight touch of blues, and Who’s Loving You and Domino 1.0 and 2.0 lean on psychedelia, the majority of the album revels in the smoothness of soul/funk. Early tracks Wannado and Babylon are perfect examples with Ray’s light vocals and catchy melodies reminiscent of a cooling breeze on a hot summer’s day.
The organ is used for the calming intro of Try, and the opener Move relies on the sludgy synth bass notes, but it is the core of bass/drums/guitar that really shines throughout this record, solidifying Ray’s simplistic yet infectious songwriting.
Unwind with a glass of wine and enjoy the sounds of Sketches.
Little Boom Music, Australia
The Ray Mann Three ‘Sketches Volume 1’
Saturday, 17 March 2012
Kicking of the music side to the Sketches Project, Volume 1 introduces you to The Ray Mann Three’s latest run of soulful tunes.
Showya has a seductive edge to it that makes it oh so smooth and Babylon’s sneaky bass and sublime vocal runs prove the arrangement skill of the group.
Final track Who’s Loving You will have you swinging like a mod. Now I know I’ve talked about this one before in our interview with Ray but I am just so crazed by the crunch on the drums and the megaphone vocals!
Sketches Volume 1 is fit for any environment, be that by yourself, at a party or in a dark smoky club & with each listen the songs are sure to find their way into your heart!
One A Day, Australia
Ray Mann Three – ‘Morena’
Posted 10 December, 2010
by Zac Seidler
So last night, I went to a heaps exclusive, alternate, cultural-experience-of-a-lifetime that just so happened to have a side dish of mouth-watering soul grooves. Known as ‘High Tea’, this event happens a few times a year and promotes live music in the weirdest and wackiest of places. Yesterday’s gig featuring the Sydney-sider with the golden pipes, Ray Mann, was in a hot sticky apartment laden with rugs and pillows. Finding this place hidden within the heart of Surry Hills was no problem, but once inside, it resembled some sort of horror film, like Saw or Panic Room, with graffiti ridden walls quoting, “Serial killers unite,” and “I drowned your kitten,” making for a freaky experience.
The co-ordinators of this event were extremely secretive in the planning of the location; with an email only coming in that afternoon which perfectly epitomises the whole experience – “You can either take the lift or the stairs to level two. There will be an open door onto a landing – swing left across the metal gangway, head around up the small set of stairs behind the bathrooms and look for a big yellow door!” – fucking weird. Once we located the place, having following these very precise directions we found ourselves in an apartment with incredibly eclectic styling, from the gothic candelabras to the multiple pianos both big and small to the strange industrial lighting that mirrored a drugmaking headquarters. Nonetheless, it was great to finally get out of our comfort zone that had suffocated us to mediocre events since the end of school.
When the music finally started, (after some serious tea drinking) we were all transported to a place of bliss and purity brought on by none other than Ray Mann, an Egyptian-born lyricist whose effortless melodic wanderings are simply breathtaking. Even my non-muso friends couldn’t take their eyes off him, as his hands smoothly caressed his guitar, making music that really just made you feel happy about life. In between songs, Ray made passing reference to the inspiration behind one of his tracks called ‘Feels So Good.’ He attributed the title to the kind of relationship where you hook up with someone over and over again that you know you shouldn’t, but somehow can’t help yourself, a universal concern I’m sure!
Ray continued to detail how fans of his often question whether he writes his songs while having sex. The tracks on his self-titled debut album do have some strange erotic characteristics, but I used to just put it down to his smooth falsetto. Ray set the record straight however outlining that the second verse of the song of the day, ‘Morena,’ was actually conceived whilst he was making love. Whether he had a pad and paper handy or if he just scratched it onto the bed stand with his nails is unknown, but the emotional clarity of the lyrics and untainted thread of melody that floats along effortlessly makes the new genre of ‘sex music,’ an undeniable success. As I sat on the floor, using my handheld fan and sipping on tea, I felt for the first time in my life, utterly transfixed by the music filling my ears and its sheer beauty.
At the end of the gig I spoke to Ray Mann and promised him I’d blog on one of his songs, and so here it is. I hope he’s reading this, because musicians deserve to know what a profound effect their music has on it’s listeners. If you need a chill-pill after the end of a long, hard day, Ray Mann Three can best be described as an outright overdose. This will be my last post for a while as I leave on Tuesday on a two month adventure across Asia, so enjoy this last soulful track from me before the summer of impending doom as my bros bombard you with synth-laden shit! See you on the flip side…
On The Button, Australia
Album review: The Ray Mann Three
Monday, October 18, 2010
by Karin Green
When Ray Wassef (the long time lead guitarist of Sydney outfit Kid Confucious) decided to go out on his own, he managed to find bassist Byron Luiters (now of John Butler Trio) and drummer Bart Denaro. This self titled album was recorded over three days. They have extensively toured Australia for the last 5 years and received the attention of the Japanese Record P-Vine, who they released an album through in 2009 with Grant Gerathy on drums and Joel Burton/Adam Ventoura intermittently on bass.
In “Hook Me Up” the opening bass gets my attention (this seems to be a growing trend), the stop-start catchy-ness with the down scales and addition of the picky electric. And I can’t forget the cow bell.. It also has some interesting lyrical content, i had to listen to it a few times to actually grasp. The evolution of technology and its implementation into society, and us, being the possessive monsters that human are, must always have the latest and greatest. Its well disguised, wrapped into a funky little tune.
The opening re-verb in “Feels So Good” is gorgeous. They have also used directional sound really well on this track. It opens with the chorus, which I find most unusual. They have the ability to surprise me, and I like it. The lyrics are suggestive to a one night stand (or what should have been), and of crossing moral “lines in the sand”, “but it feels so good” to be bad once in a while. I like that all members contribute to the vocals. The ending is disappointing tho, its picks up tempo and gets a little funkier, then abruptly ends!
Opa Opa. A song that can improve my mood at any time. The simple opening, just the vocals and percussion, the catchy call back. Then the real body of the song kicks in with a tempo change and the addition of the electric and bass. My favourite line has got to be “Is it because you wanted Han Solo but only ever got Chewbacca?”. I like how they portray themselves in this track, just as having fun. There is an honesty that comes with laughter. There’s a purity to an “unrefined” track.
Musically and lyrically, i have my eye on “I Can See It All Before Me”. “Stop trying to look around, close my eyes and follow the sound. I can see it all before me”. Its just a dreamy and heartfelt line. The track has a tone of realisation. It easy to listen to, and just be. I find it difficult to analyse as i tend to get lost in it somewhat. My top track from this album.
This album is smooth and rounded as well as being raw and untamed. It has a sensuality to it, that comes from Rays vocals and the musical honesty that emanates from its being. I’m yet to hear any of their newer tracks but I’m eagerly looking forward to that experience.
Also see this short interview with Ray about their growth and reception.
Soul Of Sydney, Australia
The Bamboos and The Ray Mann Three @ Manning Bar, Sydney 07.05.10
Posted 12 May, 2010 [excerpt]
The evening started off with Sydney’s sophisticated soul funk trio Ray Mann Three, delivering once again quality original and minimal soul funk grooves, establishing the perfect mood for what was yet to come. Sporting a shaved head, Ray Mann with his D’angelo-esque vocals warmed the dancefloor playing tracks off their debut LP of the same name. Watch out for these guys as they soon could possibly be joining the list of Australian royal soul funk aficionados, and that’s definitely not a bad thing for Australia!
Faster Louder, Australia
The Reverend Al Green and The Ray Mann Three @ Perth Zoo, 17/01/2010
Gig Reviews by raciroo, 20th January, 2010
The Ray Mann Three are a trio of cheeky lads playing minimalistic soul with a touch of funk and blues. Describing them as laid-back is an understatement as these boys sit, relaxed as anything. They were a very appropriate warm up act for The Reverend Al Green as they put the crowd into the groove of soul but were at the same time respectfully subdued leaving Green to bring the “wow” factor. Ray Mann was the master of the cheek with his funky smooth falsetto vocals, teasing lyrics and impromptu giggles.
Faster Louder, Australia
Tori Amos, Ray Mann @ Canberra Theatre, Canberra (15/11/09)
Gig Review by mattymac, 20th November, 2009
Tori Amos sat with us recently in an evening of intense personal confession, accompanied by Ray Mann of the Ray Mann Three.
Ray Mann was the Yin to Tori’s Yang. Bereft of the Three, his stripped back set felt like he had personally invited us there himself to enjoy his barefooted ramblings. The stage got smaller and you could almost taste the green tea you should be drinking. His disarming material pooled and eddied in the spaces between everyone and small colourful flourishes kept it all buoyant. Without the aggressive masculinity of a rhythm section (the blood and guts of soul) his voice was allowed to establish its own place rather than force its way to the foreground. It was fine and dexterous and was interlaced with his flirtatious guitar work beautifully. It was a blithe conversation between performer and audience that was perhaps in hindsight more of a necessary counterpoint to Tori’s sombre performance than it may have originally looked on paper.
Oz Music Scene, Sydney
Tori Amos @ Opera House, Sydney – 16 November 2009
November 17, 2009 by lkatulka
The night opened up with the soulful sounds of Ray Mann. This young man with the old-school soul sensibility and his electric guitar was a strange choice for supporting Tori. She’s so unique that it’s always hard to find the right fit. The restless crowd told me though that he probably wasn’t it. It’s a shame because his songs were gorgeous, and his personality just as sweet. He told us that tonight, playing for his home audience at the iconic Opera House, was the best night of his life. Clearly he didn’t mind the chatty crowd and was just happy to play for those, like myself, who were happy to listen. I think he’s going to be embraced by the crowd on the Al Green tour he’s supporting next year. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more from Ray, which is a very good thing.
Out In Canberra, Canberra
Live: Tori Amos w/ Ray Mann @ Canberra Theatre Centre
Sunday, 16 November 2009
Supporting Amos, was Sydney musician Ray Mann. Having recently seen Ray Mann Three at Transit, it was interesting to see Ray Mann removed from his usual musical backdrop. Ray Mann performed songs such as the heartfelt ‘Morena’, and ‘Another Night with You’. He proved once again that he is truly one of the most talented musicians coming up through the ranks, with solid guitar work and a soulful singing voice.
The Ray Mann Three @ Transit Bar, Canberra, (25/07/09)
Gig Reviews by mattymac, 28th July, 2009
There isn’t a more aptly named genre of music than Soul. It’s direct; it speaks to your guts, your feet and your hips. Even the word itself sounds like it’s coming from a deeper place. It dresses itself up with a sexy bass riff and a voluptuous rhythm section. Musicians have used it to deliver powerful political messages and in its pure form it’s extremely hard to criticise. Its simplicity is its strength, and despite the best efforts of overhyped divas to usurp the moniker for commercial use, it remains such a powerful form of music that speaks to the intellectual and the aesthete alike.
Soul moves us in the best possible ways and Saturday night the Ray Mann Three wielded their music like a silk bull whip, and the cold, cold winter was forgotten for a while.
They dress well, they smile a lot and they play damn good Soul. If you completely disregard the rest of this review you should at least know these three undisputable facts. The crowd at the Transit Bar was the usual mix of hip young things, not too cool for school but certainly not a collection of wall flowers. While there was certainly a few that had braved the chill specifically to see these guys, most of the punters were just up for fun in whatever form. They slid up on stage and as soon as the lazy kick drum opened up and the bass sputtered into life the floor filled up. Boys and girls were dancing, drinks flowed, all was good, and it was like that the entire evening.
They had a beautiful sound. Grant Gerathy’s drums were fantastic, his rhythms tight and sharp. Byron Luiters’ bass was velvety and rich, with wonderful little flourishes. Ray Mann’s lead was confident; his voice easily floated over the high notes and never relied on cheap tricks or vocal gymnastics. His guitar was great too. As a band they work wonderfully, their timing was perfect. The constant tempo changes (mid song) and varying time signatures (also mid song) seem too natural to simply be stunts. I guess that’s the whole point of Soul. It has to FEEL right, and that it did. If you weren’t moving your feet, you were nodding your head.
The only problem that didn’t sit well was a minor one. The sets were broken up too often and the breaks were as long as the sets, breaking the momentum a little. For some reason they felt the need to introduce themselves a lot too. Like I said, a pretty minor gripe considering the sweet tunes, but it didn’t go unnoticed.
These cats were genuinely exciting; their music had a confident, driving machismo and effortless style. The Ray Mann Three was a very welcome respite from the relentless winter cold of late, and there was a neat reciprocity going on down at the Transit. The crowd warmed the band, the band warmed the crowd. And I’ll be damned if that’s not what Soul’s all about! Amen!
Ray Mann Three live at The Basement Sydney (24.07.09)
With a mounting reputation for being Sydney’s foremost funk/soul sound, uber cool trio, ‘The Ray Mann Three’ are beginning to lay the foundations to what looks to be a very promising future.
Described by the Brag as “Classic soul music with a modern funk twist” their appeal is derived not only from their sound, but their onstage chemistry and subtle energy underpinning all their tunes. Donning beautifully designed brown and white suits whilst performing further adds to the atmosphere that their music generates.
And despite a sold out show with people cramming into every space possibly, front man Ray Wassef was able to put a calming/intimate tone on the whole event with the audience made to feel like they were the only one in the room. This distinct characteristic created an emotional connection to the guys which in turn elevated their music beyond the already scaling heights.
Finishing to an overwhelming ovation, epitomized the rawness of the show, with the trio looking genuinely shocked at their reception. With their unbelievably good debut album on the shelves right now, and a string of lives performances regularly poking up around Sydney, you would be silly to ignore the signs…these guys are the next big thing.
Beat Magazine, Melbourne
Single Review: “Opa Opa”
Monday 22 July, 2009
Criminally clever funk from The Ray Man Three, a band that knows how to control the rhythms. This song is more space than sound, with a steady cymbal and barely-there bass guitar, leaving everything else to Ray’s Prince-ly vocal and an abrupt, repetitive bark from his two band mates. An amazingly distinctive tune.
The Ray Mann Three @ The Hopetoun, Sydney (17/04/09)
Posted by Luke_Rod, 21st April, 2009
The room suddenly groaned as the frozen-handed nicotine fiends made their reappearance before a stage that was occupied by three very dapper looking gents, each with matching tie and waistcoat. *
The Ray Mann Three* opened with a fifteen-minute jam of Feels So Good. Ray Wassef’s vocals were smooth and flirtatious, his rhythmic guitar augmented by bass player Byron Luiters’ quivering groove, as drummer Grant Gerathy tapped lightly at the frame of his snare.
The crowd around the room was yahooing to the funky sounds, feeding off the obvious energy and delight the three groovemakers took from playing to a jam-packed room. Drummer Grant was swaying his head side-to-side, constantly changing up time signatures with bass player Byron.
The gig was the launch of the latest single Hook Me Up from their debut self titled LP. I’ve been listening to this song for a while now and it really was killer live. They’ve got a groove that takes in jazz, funk, soul and hip hop all at once.
The band certainly possesses a charismatic live presence, ranging from the slow soulful lament of Morena to the shout-along-inducing Opa Opa. Go on, get yourself out to a Ray Mann Three gig: you’re sure to benefit from a dose of funky soul.
triple j Unearthed
The Ray Mann Three, Smile
Posted 13 Feb, 2009
This is audio sex. The funk is almost oozing out of my speakers. Love the D’angelo vibe. Smooth smooth smooth.
Dom Alessio, triple j
Jamie Lidell @ The Forum, Sydney (09/01/09)
Created On January 14th, 2009 by legal-affairs
It’s a very helpful band name, ‘the Ray Mann Three’ – it reminds you that there are three of them, that one of them is called Ray, and that Mann, they sure are good. Having honed their show in the credible intimacy of Sydney venues like Tonic and Melt, the recent release of an album titled The Ray Mann Three has seen them graduating to bigger rooms and bigger bills. Their set tonight showed just how deserved that graduation is. The Three are Ray Wassef (but who we will call “Ray Mann” for the purposes of this review, otherwise the band’s name is less helpful) on guitar and vocals, Byron Luiters on bass, and Grant Gerathy on drums. The flavour is stripped back soul with strong jazz leanings; Mann has a fine, clear voice that on more than one occasion calls to mind the voice of the evening’s headliner; although his dress sense differs, the Three favour the waistcoats, white shirts and loosely knotted ties look that seems to be de rigeur at the moment amongst those playing music which harks back to a better age. Starting with the album’s last track, Night With You, the Three groove through the album’s tracks, with plenty of space allowed for all players to show their assured, and deftly deployed, improvisational skills – Mann’s guitar work on Shine was a particular highlight as the tempo lifted towards the end of the set. The Ray Mann Three are an act well worth checking out – go see them at Playground Weekender if you don’t get chance to catch them before that.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings @ Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney (11/01/09)
Created On January 15th, 2009 by legal-affairs
What I came to as I dripped my way into the Festival Bar was the Ray Mann Three starting their set with Night with you. I had seen the Ray Mann Three a mere two days earlier (you can read my thoughts in my review of the Jamie Lidell gig at the Forum) and given that they played pretty much the same set as they played at Jamie Lidell, I’ll save some electrons and not repeat myself. I’m not critical of the fact that they played the same set – it’s a very good set, and they’ve a new drummer and, as I later found out, a stand-in bass player (which, in a three-piece involves a bit of reorganisation, so the fact that the set is as good as it was is testament to Mann’s talent as singer and guitarist).
Eleven Magazine Sydney, 27.01.09
The Ray Mann Three Self-titled Independent
Posted on 27 January 2009
The Ray Mann Three is the perfect summer album. The album is a stellar debut from former Kid Confucius guitarist Ray Mann. Ditching Kid Confucius’ hip hop stylings, Mann oozes sex appeal with his mix of soul and funk. This album easily deserves a four star salute. Four stars
The Independent Weekly Adelaide, 27.01.09
The Ray Mann Three Self-titled Independent 28/01/09
Hailing from Sydney, The Ray Mann Three’s debut album makes for smooth summer listening. Sharing similarities in name and indie/hippie look with the John Butler Trio, a number of songs, including ‘Opa Opa’, ‘Hook Me Up’, and ‘Morena’, reflect a more mellow take on the trademark Butleresque syncopations. Ray Mann (real name Raymond Wassef) has a great, soulful voice which sits nicely with the often sparse instrumentation of the band. ‘No Way No’ ups the funk-o-meter, with great backing vocals amid a message of defiance – “they ain’t the boss of me”! Closing the album is the wonderfully laid-back ‘Night With You’. Those who like The Cat Empire, or 1990s Sydney act Skunkhour will find a similar groove here. The album is way too short at 37 minutes, but stands up nicely to high rotation – a good thing now that the lazy heat of summer is upon us. A deck chair, cold beer/icy cocktail, cool breeze, and the Ray Mann Three cranked up on your stereo. No finer way to spend a few lazy hours. MGM.
dB Magazine Adelaide, 14.01.09
The Ray Mann Three
The Ray Mann Three (MGM)
Reviewed by: Keilly Reilly
The Ray Mann Three should be a laughing stock. They make beautiful soul music and Ray Mann’s delicious falsettos are seriously sexy, but it’s hard to take music like this seriously – just look at Prince. Somehow they pull it off without being caricatures, though, and while nothing quite equals the languid grooves of the exquisite opening track Smile, this is a damn good debut. Ray Mann used to be the lead guitarist in neo-soul band Kid Confucius and drummer Bart Denaro still plays with them, and their influence is easy to hear in the ever so slightly dirty groove of Hook Me Up. On that song Mann does the G. Love half-sing half-rap thing, but it’s when he gets to crooning that things are at their best, his Prince meets Curtis Mayfield voice joining the liquid guitar licks in a blissful combination rather than the sleazy bass/ low talking sound that the band sometimes slips into. Yr Werds borrows a little from the Beatles’ Oh! Darling, but turns those elements into a classic soul track that has the rhythm section taking the lead a bit more for a nice understated moment, and Getting Thru slows things right down for some slow burning soul. ‘The Ray Mann Three’ winds up with another slow number, Night With You and, like the rest of the album, it’s irresistibly sexy – God only knows what these guys do live, but if it’s anything like this album, you’d better watch out.
Drum Media Sydney, 20.01.09
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings plus The Ray Mann Three
Beck’s Festival Bar, Hyde Park Barracks
Reviewed by: Katie Benson
The rain that had threatened Sydney all weekend finally came down in buckets minutes before The Ray Man (sic) Three took the stage. They opened with a slow number and kept things at that pace throughout; the tempo only stepped up mid-track when the band broke down their singles to funk and blues jams. Mann’s vocals were smooth and light, perfectly complimenting the relaxed soul and breezy lyrics. Adding further to their happy ambience, all three members played with such infectious joy that the soggy audience quickly forgot the conditions.
The Brag Sydney, 13.10.08
“Indie Album of the Week”
The Ray Mann Three
Reviewed by: Jonno Seidler
You know what I love about the Sydney music scene? Like, the REAL scene, not the ‘I go to Oxford St and dance to remixes of Wolfmother until 4am’ scene? The fact that everybody knows everybody else. I don’t actually know Ray Mann, but I know him by association to my other muso friends, who’ve been touting his wares for years. Finally, Ray got his shit together after playing in a little hole in the wall (Tonic Lounge) for 3 years and recorded this sublime album full of lazy, summery sex tunes that make Prince look like a virgin.
There’s certain music you put in your CD player and you just smile, and forget exactly what it is you hate about the world (don’t get me started). Ray Mann’s tunes do that for me. It’s like a huge serotonin shot to the ass with a mango daiquiri on the side. The instrumentation is sparse but well thought out, the songs are absolutely top notch, and Ray’s voice is beyond orgasmic – even if you’re a heterosexual guy.
Like all undervalued artists, Ray’s CD is self-produced and completely not getting the airplay it should. I know this because I heard a new Pussycat Dolls song the other day. It took all my self-control not to drive my car into a crowd of kids in leather jackets. Ok, so I might have killed one. But once you hear the beautiful sounds of this trio, you can almost forget that the Dolls, nay, even Kyle Sandilands ever existed.
If you ever needed proof that soul wasn’t dead, you just found it. Guaranteed baby-making music.
Music Feeds Sydney, 12.07.08
“Album Reviews: The Ray Mann Three The Ray Mann Three
Reviewed by: Jules Bibley-Hall
This is the musical equivalent of sex on a summer’s afternoon. It’s laid back, it’s funky, it’s sexy, it climaxes at all the right moments and as the title of track 3 says it “Feels So Good”. Within thirty seconds of the CD starting I was grooving along in my chair and checking their website to find out when they’re next performing live. If this is how good theses boys are on a recording I’m salivating over the prospect of a live show. There is a special balance achieved by this trio, each of them contributing just enough to the musical landscape but leaving enough space for each other’s playing to shine. Byron Luiters deep basslines creep along below Ray Mann’s soulful, laid-back guitar licks and Bart Denaro’s jazzy drumming. Ray Mann’s voice is like honey – sweet, smooth and natural however all three contribute vocals and this makes for a nice full sound with some really effective call and response sequences. I’m not always the biggest soul music fan but this album got under my skin in a very pleasant way. If you need a little bit of loving put this album on and be seduced.
The Brag Sydney, 30.06.08
“Live Reviews: The Ray Mann 3 [sic]
Sat 21 June The Vanguard”
By Tony Two-Tone
Can I begin by saying this was just a really, really great night. The Vanguard was sold out and there was a distinct buzz surrounding soul trio Ray Mann 3’s [sic] album launch. They’ve been playing around town since 2005, most prominently their monthly residency at Tonic Lounge, so people have had a chance to catch them here and there. Tonight though, was all about them…
I think the crowd knew we were in for something special when the Ray Mann 3 took the stage, there was a palpable tension. The boys, snappy dressers that they are, carry a lot of style and personality with them. Frontman Ray (ex Kid Confucious [sic] guitarist) steals a lot of the attention with his voice, but Bart and Byron on drums and bass respectively are not to be outdone.
I feel one of the reasons that the band has been able to craft this upwards trajectory for themselves is the strength of the individual players, they just wring so much life from their instruments. The solos throughout the show really drove home the extent of the talent. It’s classic soul music they play with a modern funk twist. Ray has a knack for a well selected cover, and it’s when you hear his versions of D’Angelo’s ‘Brown Sugar’ or The Roots ‘The Seed V2.0’ that the ‘wow factor’ of his vocals sinks in. Tonight however was all about the band’s own songs, and they proved what a strong repertoire they’ve developed over time.
The momentum built steadily through the slinky pink panther style soul, the boys had more and more fun and the Vanguard was grooving about as much as the Vanguard can. They must have felt the hush as they played, the crowd was well and truly drawn in. One of their signature tunes, ‘Opa Opa’, with Bart on the mic always seems to reduce the trio to fits of laughter. It’s an enjoyable spectacle. Then they bowed and left the stage for barely a second and were back with a classy encore that included some Zappa-esque psychedelic guitar, the big single ‘Smile’ and an ultimately feelgood cover of Elton’s ‘Benny And The Jets’. It was a fantastic jam, delivered with such a level of confidence you feel sure they’ll have to go on to bigger and better things.
The musical atmosphere’s right for a band like this to break into the bigtime, the Bamboo’s have done it, and I think the Ray Mann 3 have the mass appeal to sail even further than the Melbourne funk outfit. Best of luck to you guys.
Drum Media Sydney, 27.05.08
“Live Reviews: Kate Miller-Heidke
The Ray Mann 3 (sic)
Annandale Hotel 10/05/08”
By Bianca O’Neill
Speaking of being a little out of place, The Ray Mann 3 were certainly not a usual band to play at the Annandale with their brand of cool funk. It speaks volumes when a band that plays funk with big basslines and in three piece suits can convert such a varied crowd as the Annandale attracts – and they did just that. They were just that mix of entertaining and talented; and most importantly, they were enjoying what they do, which made them simply infectious.
Drum Media Sydney, 03.03.08
The Ray Mann Three
By Donne Restom
I couldn’t have conceived neo-soul outfit [The] Ray Mann Three working in a rock room. I was wrong. They rocked. The extraordinary tightness of this trio created a sound that was bigger than anything played yet. Stripped back and simple lines coupled with Mann’s rhythmic falsetto had a pulsing rawness that made the young Annandale crowd seriously jump around. It just goes to show that this group has what it takes to transcend the barriers defined by genre.
Drum Media Sydney, 09.01.08
The Vanguard, 09/01/08
By Donne Restom
Pre-show entertainment at The Vanguard is usually a non-event. Dinner is being served and the rattling and clinking of culinary implements create cymbal-like accents within the cacophonic rabble. Ray Mann begins his solo show with “How Long Has This been Going On”, an exceptionally quiet piece that grabs an unusual bout of attention from his chattering audience. Looking visibly surprised with the response Ray continues on his softly spoken, unassuming tack singing “Just Another Night” With You and the original “Gettin’ Through” with a lyrical clarity that can often be obscured within his usual trio. As the audience buzz rises and falls in accord to the dynamic level of each song, Ray pulls off a difficult spot with simplicity and warmth.
Drum Media Sydney, 18.10.05
The Ray Mann Three
By Graziella Obeid
On a small street in a petite venue in a big town is Tonic Lounge Bar, a bar that could be mistaken for a jazz den in the old Jewish quarter of Paris. The wall ‘tonic’ is a soft impressionist painting of Frida Kahlo, the decor ‘tonic’ is French bourgeois meets provincial kitsch, and the beverage ‘tonic’ is a raspberry and lychee martini… mmmm, the barman is an expert.
The Ray Mann Three – who are urban, neo-soul, a dash of funk, lots of spunk with a truly fresh spirit… have the ability to propel you into a higher sphere allowing your soul and intellect to waltz into the lofty clouds of the unique. Slotting you into a groove on a not-too-polished urban wooden floor, these songs resonate in your body and soul and are expressed with your feet… hello Ray Mann Three. …
[The] Ray Mann Three combined originals and covers and executed them with such distinctiveness that it seemed to me they extrapolated more spunk than the originals (traditionalists please don’t slap me), especially their version of “The Seed” by The Roots. Other covers came from D’angelo and Jill Scott. Their rendition of “Sign Your Name” by Terence Trent D’Arby had the crowd curving their hips and humming along, while their original, “Morena”, felt like a cross between Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder.
Ray, the lead guitar and singer has a vocal range envious of any of the best in soul. Matt Hunter on bass and vocals kept his funky finger working and Bart Denaro, drums and vocals, was good enough to eat. (Ray and Bart are members of Kid Confucius). The trio were not too polished, not too tight, but a model of loose, energetic cinnamon-spice.
If you want to hear how soul has evolved, see these guys play. Better still, see them at Tonic because it’s gotta be one of the best places I’ve been to in a long time.