Tre Corda's new recording featuring Greg Hopkins (trumpet) and Eugene Friesen (cello).
A "chamber jazz" trio recording featuring Tim on piano, Greg Hopkins on trumpet and Eugene Friesen on cello. For more info and reviews on this group, see the Tre Corda page. Works by Tim, Greg, Eugene and Bela Bartok.
Squeaky Toy -- extended liner notes
1) Once Around the Block (T. Ray) While some might hear this opening piece as a journey through foreign lands, I prefer to see it as merely a short but eventful trip through a diverse and fascinating neighborhood.
2) Nudgy (T. Ray) Never quite sure of the correct spelling of the title, this composition draws on 19th and 20th century classical influences, but was mostly inspired by the personality characteristics of that person you know who is a little hard to spend time with, because they just get on your nerves after a while...
3-5) Improvisations, op. 20 (B. Bartok) This collection of eight piano pieces by Bartok was some of my favorite classical music to play in college. Imagine my disappointment as a young student of jazz when I first realized that despite the title, they were to be played as written, without improvisation! Many years later I rediscovered these fabulous vignettes, and promptly set out to arrange them for Tre Corda, with sections opened up for actual improvisation in the first (no. 5) and third movement (no. 8) presented here. The middle one (no. 3) is played as written, solo piano, as Bartok had intended when he composed it (or did he?)
6) Shadow Play (E. Friesen) This piece features the pizzicato artistry of Eugene Friesen, who uses a special technique he calls "Afro-pizz" because it employs plucking with both hands, similar to how an African harp (or Kora) would be played. It is typically played much faster in concert, but in the recording studio we decided to warm up with a slower, sexier rendition. Turns out that was the version we liked the best!
7) Waltz for Inge (T. Ray) This unusual little "waltz" chugs along mostly in 5/4 meter, not 3/4 as one would expect. But it's primary influence nonetheless is the great body of classical waltzes composed in 19th century Vienna and Germany. It is dedicated to my mother Inge, who has seamlessly transformed from my benevolent taskmaster ("is that what you're supposed to be practicing?") to my biggest fan. Her and my father's support for my music can never be overstated.
Sonata for Trumpet, Cello & Piano (G. Hopkins)
9) In the Shadows
10) Theme Party
This three movement work showcases the compositional talents of Greg Hopkins. The first movement "Sneakers" hums along with a repeated note ostinato and multiple improvised solo sections for the ensemble, for cello, and then piano. "In the Shadows" features canonic material throughout the first half, then settles into a peaceful jazz reverie with solos for all three instruments. This segues into the third movement "Theme Party", which is based on a well-known riff performed often by Miles Davis, referred to as "The Theme".
11) Sound Escapades Part III: Squeaky Toy (T. Ray) This sonic adventure is dedicated to Aslan the dog, who was fascinated with (and in turn got me fascinated with) the musical possibilities of his favorite plastic diversion, the squeaky toy. Most pups regard this type of amusement merely as a noisemaker (often to the dismay of their owners) or fetch toy, but Aslan would carefully position the ball in his mouth and try to create new and different tones and timbres by varying the speed and duration of his bite. Our ensemble makes every attempt to capture some of the sounds and energy of Aslan's explorations, and then we wisely let the infamous toy wrap up the recording.
On My Own - Volume 1 New Works$13.00
Solo piano improvisations and compositions by Tim, Lyle Lovett and Jane Siberry.
A collection of new solo piano compositions and improvisations by Tim, along with pieces by longtime musical companions Lyle Lovett and Issa (formerly Jane Siberry).
On My Own vol. 1 - New Works -- extended liner notes
1) Two Shadows That Flow Together (T. Ray) My brother Dan was getting married, and I was faced with the age-old question - what is the perfect wedding gift? After much thought and discussion, I decided to celebrate their union by writing a new song for them. It took months to find the perfect love poem by Pablo Neruda, but once I read it I knew this was the inspiration I needed to compose this gift. The title comes from this poem, and the tune has turned out to be one of my favorite original compositions.
2) Film Noir (T. Ray) An improvisation on a blues form, invoking some of the dark, brooding atmosphere of this classic style of movie making.
3) Meet Mungo (T. Ray) Mungo is my little improvisational friend that pops up from time to time throughout this recording. I never quite know what he's up to at any particular moment, but his theme intrigues me, and he never seems to linger for long before making his exit.
4) I’ve Been to Memphis (Lyle Lovett) This is my favorite composition by singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett, with whom I've had the pleasure of touring around the world over the past 15+ years as part of his Large Band. The intro and funky stride-like groove on this performance is reminiscent of his original recorded version; the careening-out-of-control ending is similar to the ones I would improvise in Lyle's concerts, and he always seemed to enjoy those moments. As for the improvised solo section in the middle? I'm guessing he wouldn't approve...
5-6) Exploring Schuller’s “Magic Row” (T. Ray)
12 Ways to Go
A set of two improvisations based on a twelve-tone row conceived by composer Gunther Schuller, which he termed his "magic row". He based the slow movement of his 2nd violin concerto (and many subsequent works) on this pattern of the twelve notes in a chromatic scale (arranged in the serial row of C#, D, G, Bb, E, F, A, B, G#, F#, Eb, C). Although serial compositions tend to be atonal, Schuller's row has elements of tonality built-in, and these improvisations reflect this juxtaposition. The first movement starts with the row intact, and various permutations of it come back throughout the piece. In the 2nd movement, the row is less literally stated, and is more of a launching pad for some up-tempo splashing through tonal and atonal waters. The title for this part, Angular Velocity, is actually a physics term referring to the rate at which an object rotates or revolves about an axis. (And for anyone who might wonder - yes, I am sometimes a bit of a nerd.)
7) Strayhorn’s Mood (T. Ray) This composition was written some years ago as part of a Duke Ellington Tribute concert for a jazz quartet that featured my friend and trumpet-player extraordinaire Herb Pomeroy. The harmonies and certain melodic shapes are reminiscent of those of Ellington and his musical compadre Billy Strayhorn (one of the unsung heroes of jazz composition). I learned of Herb's passing not long after I recorded this solo version, and so I thought it fitting to include it in this collection. This tune is dedicated to him.
8) 5 for 3 (to 1) (T. Ray) One of the first pieces I wrote for my "chamber jazz" trio Tre Corda (piano, cello and trumpet) was a piece entitled 5 for 3 - because it was primarily in a 5/4 time signature, and was to be played by the 3 of us. Although we have performed it in concert on several occasions, I was somehow never satisfied enough with the results to release it on CD. I decided to re-work it for solo piano, muting the strings on one of the primary notes, and am pleased at how it turned out - not only sonically and compositionally, but also because the countdown in the title is now complete.
9) Mungo & His Friend Bob (T. Ray)Mungo's back - this time with a friend. They engage in some improvisational dialogue for a while, and then float away as mysteriously as they arrived.
10) Hutch is Dead (T. Ray)I was composing this rather mournful tune one evening when my sweetie commented on the piece from the other room, and inquired as to what the title of this new work was. Not wishing to be interrupted, I ignored her question. Bad choice. She persisted, asking if it was an elegy for her friend Martha's recently departed dog "Hutch". In my attempts to end the dialogue as quickly as possible so I could finish my work, I blurted out, "yes, I'm calling this one... Hutch... is Dead!" (I was being rude, and yet somehow she found it touching). She was in fact so moved that I would write a song for Hutch that she immediately called Martha and told her that I wrote a tune to commemorate her dog, and named it "Hutch is Dead". To both of our surprise, Martha laughed and the name stuck.
11-13) Adventures With Dogs (T. Ray)
First Snow at Midnight
Don't tell the agitated cat(s) this, but I am actually a dog person. I have a great fondness for big dogs and I am crazy about our 2 big mutts. They are great playmates, companions, and are always up for the next great adventure, no matter the time or weather. Each of these improvisations represent a favorite dog/people activity in our world. Music (and life) are always a bit better with dogs lying under the piano.
14) Sound Escapades Part Two: b prepared (T. Ray) An improvised escapade into the world of prepared pianos. A variety of metallic, fabric and foam objects decorate the strings of the piano to help create interesting percussive, bell-tone and buzzing sonorities. My father long ago remarked about a piece I played, saying it sounded "like stuff was falling randomly onto a piano." Well, in this case, that's not too far from the truth.
15) You Will Walk in Good Company [The Valley] (Jane Siberry) Perhaps one of the most beautiful songs ever written, by long-time musical partner and friend Jane Siberry (who now goes by the name "Issa"). Originally titled The Valley, the lyrics to this piece are based on the 23rd Psalm, and this piece remains one of her most popular works.
16) Mungo’s New Toy (T. Ray) Mungo makes his final appearance to end the CD. He's acquired a special new "toy", upon which he improvises a melody along with the piano (the only overdub on this collection) to bring the recording to a close.
Chamber jazz trio recording featuring Greg Hopkins (trumpet) and Eugene Friesen (cello).
A "chamber jazz" trio recording featuring Tim on piano, Greg Hopkins on trumpet and Eugene Friesen on cello. For info and reviews on this group, see the Tre Corda page. Works by Tim, Greg, Eugene and Rogers & Hart.
Tre Corda's CD: Tre Corda
Shorter Suite (based on themes by Wayne Shorter)
Variations on Nefertiti
Variations on Fall
Variations on Pinocchio
Olive's Branch (Hopkins)
Blues & Rhythm (Ray)
Monk's Nightmare (Ray)
Sound Escapades, Part 1 - The
Kitchen Sink (Ray)
Church Rhythms (Friesen/Ray)
Blue Moon (Rodgers & Hart)
The Colonel's Final Journey
Love Songs of the Americas$13.00
Beautiful songs in Spanish and English with string orchestra. Featuring Mili Bermejo (voice), Eugene Friesen (cello) and Dan Greenspan (bass).
Mili Bermejo, voice; Eugene Friesen, cello; Tim Ray, piano; Dan Greenspan, bass
1. Pasarero (Carlos Aguirre)
2. Noche (Nando Michilin)
3. To Say Goodbye (Neto, Hall, Lobo)
4. Fuimos (Damés, Contursi)
5. Te Amaré (Silvio Rodriguez)
6. Pura Belleza (Mili Bermejo)
7. Gringa Chaqueña (Luna, Ramirez)
8. Tú (Damés, Contursi)
9. I've Never Been in Love Before (Frank Loesser)
10. Te Abracé en la Noche (Fernando Cabrera)
11. La Luz de un Fósforo (Villanueva, Cadicamo)
12. Mais que a Paixao (Egberto Gismonti)
With the Berklee College World Strings Recorded 2010 at WGBH Fraser Performance studio by Antonio Oliart and at Berklee College of Music Studio A by Tom Carr
Ideas & Opinions
Tim's debut CD as a leader. Featuring Lewis Nash (drums) and Rufus Reid (bass). CD currently available only through GM Recordings.
Ideas and Opinions
Currently available only through
Tim Ray may have waited a long time to make his recording debut as a leader, but he has not waited idly. The pianist has been extremely visible while in the service of others, frequently traveling throughout the world as a pianist for such luminaries as Lyle Lovett, Victoria Williams, Soul Asylum, Jane Siberry, Gary Burton and Orange Then Blue, among others.
The ten performances on this disc capture a pianist who is both a perfectionist and an explorer, with an enormous sound and razor-sharp articulation of each idea. Ray is never predictable. Rather than settle for familiar strategies, he works his way into corners and back out again. With the help of inspired and responsive partners Lewis Nash (the consummate drummer in Tommy Flanagan’s unit) and bassist Rufus Reid, he expands the certainty of his own spontaneous creations onto a large ensemble canvas. The resulting musical telepathy and interplay make for some of the most exciting jazz heard in a long time. Sideman no more — Tim Ray’s time has come.