Ray Heitger (12/15/43) Clarinet, soprano saxophone, vocals. Born Beaver, Pennsylvania. Self taught. Started playing at age 19 June 1963. To Toledo in September 1965. June 1967 organized Dixieland 5 1/2. Disbanded after six months. Organized CJB in December 1967. Married; Elizabeth. Four children; Duke, Renée, Andrea, Nicole. Mathematics instructor at Bowling Green State University. Father died when Ray was only nine months old. Only child raised by mother. Always had good music around the house (not necessarily dixieland). Became interested in jazz thru a high school friend who played trumpet in a dixieland band. When a distant cousin was to marry a dixieland cornet player, decided to try to play jazz. Originally tried to learn trumpet until high school friend suggested the clarinet. Borrowed a clarinet and played two tunes the first day (crudely!). Never had a lesson and does not read music: all self taught and plays by ear. Got into New Orleans style jazz when first heard a Kid Ory record. Picked up the horn in June of 1963, formed a band (New Orleans Feetwarmers) in September of 1963, and played their first gig in December of 1963. Has been playing ever since. The band played around the Beaver area a year and a half until coming to graduate school in Toledo, OH. While in Toledo, played at a club (Brother Baker's) just outside of Toledo for a year and a half. In June of 1967, formed the Dixieland 5 1/2. Played a few private gigs about six months around Toledo area. Organized the CJB in December of 1967. Went into Tony Packo's Cafe July 3, 1968 and was let go right after March 17, 2002 - 32 2/3 years. One of the longest gigs in the history of jazz. Then played at Ragtime Rick's First Draught. Now at Murphy's Jazz Cafe in downtown Toledo. (See PR of band.) Has been made an honorary life member of the Indianapolis Jazz Club (IJC). At the 1975 World Championship of Jazz sponsored by the IJC, was selected as one of the six outstanding musicians at the festival. Heitger's Spittune Records has produced seven albums of the Cakewalkin' Jass Band and a trio album with clarinet, piano, and tuba. Father of the trumpet player Duke Heitger and jazz vocalist Nicole Heitger.
Nicole Heitger has been a vocalist for twenty years. She attended Bowling Green State University as a vocal major for one year then transferred to the University of Toledo as a Sociology major. Nicole has been raised with traditional jazz. Her father, Raymond, is the leader of the Cakewalkin' Jass Band. She has been singing with the CJB off and on since she was sixteen years old, performing at various concerts, jazz festivals, and jazz clubs. She is now a full time member of the band. Nicole also has performed with the Toledo contemporary swing band Satin and Brass for the past few years and the Easy Street Jazz Band from Ann Arbor. Nicole has been an employee at the East Toledo Family Center since 1996. She is an outreach worker and loves working with children and families.
Duke Heitger is really too famous to be included here, but I do it anyway. Do a search on Google and you will get about about 51000 hits! His web site is: www.dukeheitger.com.