December 16, 2020
Florida Rays CD Cover

Orlando’s own Flying Horse Big Band celebrates the legacy of Ray Charles.

On their 7th album, The Flying Horse Big Band, joined by a host of distinguished guest artists, stands on the shoulders of genius.

Ray Charles spent his formative years in Florida and went on to forge a long, successful career unique and stunning musical interpretations. His songs were hits on R&B, pop, country and jazz charts. The Flying Horse Big Band follows Charles’ lead with fresh takes on classic, melodic tunes.

The album has made its way up the national jazz charts including reaching #3 on the RMR Jazz Charts and continues to climb. Florida Rays has also received praise from Jazz Weekly, Jazz and Blues Magazine and more! Read the full reviews below. Click here to purchase the CD, stream the album online or learn more.


RMR: #1 (as of November 23, 2020)

Jazz Week: #18 (as of October 1, 2020)

NACC: #4 (as of September 30, 2020)

RMR chart shows Florida Rays at the #3 spot

Florida Rays is named one of the top 10 Jazz


Making a Scene

Florida Rays is named one of the top 10 jazz albums of 2020 by Making a Scene magazine.

Jazz Weekly

“Khristian Dentley preaches it on ‘(It’s Not Easy) Being Green’ and Davonda Simmons growls out ‘Hit The Road  Jack’ and teams up with Villastrago on a swaying ‘What’d I Say.'” Read the full review


“There may have been other tributes to the great Ray Charles and many of them have been true to his musical legacy, but there are few that have captured his joyous spirit better than this one by Jeff Rupert and The Flying Horse Big Band.” Read the full review

Jazz and Blues Magazine

A review from Jazz and Blues Magazine

Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher of Midwest Record

“Ray Charles was originally from Florida so why shouldn’t a tasty big band kick it out on Charles’ classics? Jeff Rupert leads all the swinging cats and kitties through all the jumping and jiving and a great time is had by all. Don’t be afraid of this being a gift shop record because it’s anything but. A wailing good time throughout.”

Making a Scene!

“To this writer, the most striking performances come from Florida native and Orlando resident DaVonda Simmons who leads incredibly soulful takes on “Lonely Avenue” and ‘What’d I Say’ as well as duetting with Paparozzi on ‘Hit the Road, Jack.'” Read the full review

Michael Doherty’s Music Log

“Just the kind of thing to raise our spirits in these dark days of anxiety, The Flying Horse Big Band celebrates the music and spirit of Ray Charles on the new release, Florida Rays.” Read the full review

Take Effect

“Lonely Avenue” brings a soulful delivery from Simmons to the dynamic musicianship along with playful backing vocals and a trombone solo from Jeremiah St. John, while “What’d I Say” moves with a big band influence as rowdy horns mesh well with Simmons’ seasoned pipes. ”Watermelon Man”, an album highlight, then recruits spirited guitar work alongside plenty of grooves and excellent percussion by Marty Morell. Read the full review