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    • Shades of Gray

      Artists: Gary Gray / clarineto Judith Farmer / bassoon Joanne Pearce Martin / piano Adam...

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    • Teaching

      Mr. Gray was appointed Full Professor in Clarinet in the UCLA Music Department in 1993 where he also teaches the...

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    • It's A Woodwind World VIII

      It's A Woodwind World VIII Date Venue Program February 27, 2014 8:00pm Popper Theater of...

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2016 Beverly Hills International Music Festival - August 5-14

Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

8844 Burton Way Beverly Hills, CA 902112016 BHMF

Click here for more information and ticket info.

cassogb-logoGary Gray
(Clarinet/alto and tenor sax) with others

Centaur CRC 3251


Gary, not previously known to this reviewer, is Professor of Clarinet at Chair of Woodwind Studies at University of California, Los Angeles, a busy studio musician and a concert artist. This relatively new release from Centaur, also based in the States, is a collection of extraordinarily well played material recorded over the period 1983 to 2011.

This CD is remarkable for a number of reasons. Gary has the tone and technique of a true virtuoso. He has an unbelievably natural feel for jazz phrasing and improvisation (which extends to his sax work). And he has chosen instrumental partners and composers to deliver a most entertaining mix of classical and jazz influenced work.

Lasting nearly 69 minutes the programme embraces two Gershwin items Three Preludes from 1923 and Rhapsody in Blue (1926) both rearranged for clarinet and piano with the latter played by Bill Cunliffe. Bill also contributes as a composer to “Canon” from his Yin and Yang Suite for clarinet and alto saxophone. For me this is on of the four five star pieces on the disc. Gary Foster plays alto (one of the very best US lyrical improvisers not many folks have heard of). As the liner notes point out this taxing work could be equally performed by the two guys switching instruments. The remaining three five stars go to Kenny Burrell’s Blue Muse (2003) arranged for clarinet and guitar played by the composer, Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life (1938) featuring Bill again, a spoken voice-over lyric and Gary Gray’s tenor sax and finally Mr. Gray playing/improvising on his alto sax in Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Wave this time with Vince Maggio on piano. All of this jazz material is impeccably played and is delightful.

shades-of-gray-CD-smNow for the classical content. Gernot Wolfgang’s Three Short Stories for clarinet and bassoon (2003) brings in the most amazing bassoon playing I have heard in a long time - superb tone and articulation with a very attractive use of vibrato. Judith Farmer is the bassoonist involved in this suite, with the first movement entitled “Uncle Bebop” demanding that phenomenal articulation. Whilst the second movement “Rays of Light” is more lyrical there is no let-up in the final “Latin Dance” - brilliant! Mark Carlson’s Hall of Mirrors (1990) for piano and clarinet has three movements - we hear the third, “Twilight”, a truly serene and beautiful melody. Charles Harold Bernstein’s Blending the clarinet and violin (1989) is the longest work on the CD at just over 12 minutes made up of five movements with both players requiring every ounce of technique. Not normally found as a duo partners clarinet and violin do effectively blend in the contemporary but accessible work. The violinist is Adam Korniszewski.

I hope that this review demonstrates that I was truly impressed by Gary’s single reed activity - so much so that I hastened to the qwerty keyboard to find out more - www.clarinetbygray.com takes you to his own website and is extremely informative.  Spotify has his work with the RPO somewhile back (Copland and Arnold clarinet concertos plus Lutoslawski Dance Preludes and Rossini Variations) but you need Amazon USA or his own site to get hold of his back catalogue.

Recommended most strongly.
Kenneth Morris

Clarinet & Saxophone Society of Great Britain

Listen to Gary Gray

2008 Grammys

Gary Gray was the clarinetist with The Grammy Award Orchestra for the 50th Anniversary Show.
February 10, 2008


Click on the photo above to hear Gary play.