Trumpet player Michael Ray spent approximately 15 years with the Sun Ra Arkestra before he took the leap and established a band of his own, Michael Ray & the Cosmic Krewe. He had previously contributed to the sound of Kool & the Gang. While Sun Ra's outfit played free jazz, and Kool & the Gang was more of a contemporary funk outfit, Ray and his Cosmic Krewe have learned how to deliver their own type of funk to a jazz audience, as evidenced on the song "Earthrite." While the number gets the crowd moving in a big way every time during a live show, when Michael Ray & the Cosmic Krewe debuted with an eponymous release in 1994, it was decided that the mix was too much of a gamble. Evidence Music didn't include "Earthrite" on the release, although the song later found a place on Funk If I Know.
In addition to leading the Cosmic Krewe, Ray still plays trumpet with the Arkestra. Tipping his hat to the late jazz visionary, Ray included a couple of Ra's numbers, "Yolinda" and "Latin Monkey," on his Funk If I Know release. Ray also played with Phish on the album Phish: A Live One, as well as on-stage, and he contributed to Surrender to the Air by Trey Anastasio. His other work includes a soundtrack for PBS. Based in New Orleans, Michael Ray & the Cosmic Krewe took home the honor of Best Funk Band in 1999 when the outfit appeared at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Ray actually supervises a pair of ensembles named Cosmic Krewe -- one based in the Crescent City, the other in Burlington, VT, and the surrounding region. Members of both Krewes are represented on the Funk If I Know CD.