Vibraphonist and vanguard Roy Ayers continues to inspire
Roy Ayers grew up in a musical family, receiving his first pair of mallets at age five.
He began recording as a sideman in 1962, slowly rising in prominence before dropping out of Los Angeles City College. In 1966, he joined jazz flautist Herbie Mann. Together they collaborated on 14 releases between the '60s and '70s, and a 1992 reunion album.
After creating his own band called "Roy Ayers Ubiquity" in the early '70s, he went on to work with Jack Hill on the soundtrack for the popular Blaxploitation film Coffy starring Pam Grier in 1973.
Ayers' breakout album Everybody Loves the Sunshine came out in 1976 and peaked at 51 on the Billboard 200 chart. It has been covered by dozens of artists including D’Angelo, recent Grammy winner Robert Glasper and Japanese trumpeter and composer Takuya Kuroda.
Ayers is a key figure in the acid jazz movement, a style that originated in London clubs during the 1980s combining Black American soul jazz with elements of funk and hip-hip. He’s collaborated on over 50 albums with artists in the genres of jazz, pop, R&B and neo-soul.
In the late '70s, Ayers toured Nigeria with Afro-Beat pioneer Fela Kuti, which lead to his second album release titled Africa.
In the '80s, Ayers would go on to collaborate with vocalist Whitney Houston on her second multi-platinum release, Whitney, on which he played a solo on the 1987 hit “Love will save the Day.”
During the 2000s and 2010s, Ayers ventured into house music, collaborating with the band Masters at Work, and vocalists Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. In 2015, he appeared on rapper Tyler the Creator’s album Cherry Bomb.