A native of Australia, alto saxophonist and flutist Ray Warleigh lived in Britain beginning in 1960. In his youth, Warleigh studied music and developed an interest in jazz; his first model on alto was Paul Desmond.
He began playing professionally in the late '50s. After moving to England, he first played with blues musician Alexis Korner and later with such British jazz luminaries as Tubby Hayes, Humphrey Lyttelton, Ronnie Scott, and Mike Westbrook. Warleigh recorded his first album as leader -- aptly titled Ray Warleigh's First Album (Philips) -- in 1968. From the '60s on, Warleigh was an active freelancer in Britain, contributing to countless recordings by such artists as Long John Baldry, Nick Drake, John Mayall, Champion Jack Dupree, and Georgie Fame, to name just a few. Warleigh also kept his foot in jazz and experimental waters; in the '70s he played with drummer John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble and worked with Soft Machine and guitarist Allan Holdsworth, among others. He played in the West German Radio Orchestra and in Rolling Stones' drummer Charlie Watts' big band in the '80s, and recorded with flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler and classical composer Gavin Bryars for the ECM label in the '90s. Despite Warleigh's decades-long involvement in a wide variety of performing and recording settings, he wouldn't release his second album as a leader, Rue Victor Massé, an improvisational jazz outing that paired him with drummer Tony Marsh, until 2008. Warleigh died of cancer in September 2015 at the age of 76. ~ Chris Kelsey, Rovi