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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.

The Clarinet

Music Review of Shades of Gray

by Raphael Sanders


Gary Gray, clarinet (and alto/tenor saxophone in three tracks); Bill Cunliffe, piano; Judith Farmer, bassoon; Joanne Pearce Martin, piano; Adam Korniszewski, violin; Kenny Burrell, guitar; Juliette Gray, spoken voice; Vince Maggio, piano. George Gershwin: Three Preludes for clarinet and piano; Rhapsody in Blue for clarinet and piano; Gernot Wolfgang: Three Short Stories for clarinet and bassoon; Mark Carlson: "Twilight" from Hall of Mirrors for clarinet and piano; Charles Harold Bernstein: Blending for clarinet and violin; Bill Cunliffe: "Canon" from Yin and Yang for clarinet and alto saxophone; Kenny Burrell: Blue Muse for clarinet and guitar; Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life for spoken voice, piano and tenor saxophone; Antonio Carlos Jobim: Wave, improvisation for piano and alto saxophone. CENTAUR RECORDS CRC 3251. Total time 68:52. www.centaurrecords.com

shades-of-gray-CD-smGary Gray, clarinet professor at UCLA and Hollywood studio veteran, is very familiar to most clarinet enthusiasts. His previous three CDs have been highly acclaimed. He has recorded more than 1,000 film scores and TV shows, and chances are you have heard him on the silver screen. Shades of Gray offers a unique and personal look into Mr. Gray's musical palate. Included are "special past recordings along with new works, created and recorded for this project."

Gershwin's Three Preludes (1927) are expertly played by Gary Gray and Bill Cunliffe, and beautifully arranged. An all-time favorite on piano, this arrangement was smartly done by New York composer James Cohn and Mr. Gray. Three Short Stories (2003) for clarinet and bassoon by German composer Gernot Wolfgang is both engaging and toe-tapping. According to the composer the work "combines musical elements of jazz and Latin American music with compositional techniques found in classical and 20th century concert music." Movements are titled "Uncle Bebop," "Rays of Light" and "Latin Dance." Of special note is the beautiful bassoon playing of Judith Farmer. The "Twilight" movement from Hall of Mirrors (1990) by L.A. composer Mark Carlson is beautifully played with pianist Joanne Pearce Martin. "A poignant 'song'" says Carlson, "it reflects my deep affection for songs of the 30's and 40's, as well as my classical background."

As its title suggests, Blending (1989) by Los Angeles composer Charles Bernstein, interweaves nicely between the clarinet and violin timbres. Mr. Gray is capably joined by Polish violinist Adam Korniszewski. Skillfully composed and expertly played, this five-movement work includes many textural colors, exploration of articulation shadings, application of tonal nuance and skillful mixing. Bill Cunliffe's Yin and Yang (2010) is a commissioned suite by Gray and saxophonist Gary Foster (heard here). The "Canon" movement is superbly presented. As Gray writes, "The composer's intent was to compare and contrast the two reed instruments in a 'conversational' jazz setting which also showed the different characters of the two players." A great movement, this reviewer is eager to experience the entire suite.

Blue Muse (2003) by Kenny Burrell, Director of Jazz Studies at UCLA, is part of a large collection of duos, arranged here for clarinet and guitar. Timbre blending and gentle meandering lines are on full display. This is the perfect selection for a varied and eclectic recital. Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (1926) is the quintessential and most recognized work including jazz clarinet. Skillfully arranged by Bill Cunliffe, Gray smartly negotiates with ease and flair. Of special note is the opening glissando. A Cunliffe arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life (1938) is offered as a bonus track. Beautiful spoken lyrics along with the apt Gray on tenor saxophone make this ballad sugar to the ears. An all-time favorite, Jobin's Wave (1970), concludes Gray's musical offering. Pianist Vince Lawrence Maggio and Gray render an intelligent yet sensitive rendition.

As a doubler myself, I certainly appreciate Gray's saxophone playing. This entire CD offers a warm palate of colors to the listener. First-rate clarinet playing make this recording a must have for any music enthusiast. I give Mr. Gary Gray and company my highest thumbs-up.

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.