Ray (left) and John Sosin in a duet while bassist, Jamie Silverstein applauds. Photos by J.P. Crumrine

For the 2012 Jazz in the Pines, Ray Goren, jazz guitarist, returned with his own group.


Yes, a 12-year-old prodigy guitarist heads up his own jazz quartet. And they love him.

“When he’s playing, he’s great,” exclaimed bass Jamie Silverstein. “I don’t think of him as a 12-year-old.”

Ray singing a blues ballad.

In 2011, Goren played a few songs with Deacon Jones, but this year he led his own group and sang as well.


His father, David, said the desire to sing was one of the reasons Ray wanted to branch out. He was not satisfied just being called to sit in and play a few songs, then step off the stage.

When asked about his long-term goals, Ray said, “I want to make it.” Then what more could he want than his own group. “I’m not as big as I want to be,” he replied.

“How big is that?” he was asked. “Huge!” he said with determination. And Bubba Jackson has said Ray told him, “I’m going to change the face of the blues.” To achieve these milestones, Ray acknowledged that much hard work and practice would be necessary.

He began his musical career playing the piano, but shifted to the guitar only two years ago. He practices two to fours a day. On school days, it is less because of homework assignments, said the seventh grader.

“Every time I see him, he’s better,” Silverstein said. “It’s incredible to see him grow in front of you.”

The drummer, Lamont Syndor, who plays with the Jacksons, met Ray at an event for Jaime Foxx. “I was floored,” Syndor said.

“His talent is limitless,” he said. “In the last three months, so much feeling and growth in his playing.”

Snydor wasn’t exaggerating. He lost a night’s sleep to get here to play with Ray. After his Saturday night gig in Reno, he drove to San Francisco, flew to Los Angeles and then rented a car to drive to Idyllwild.