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    • Shades of Gray

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

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Teaching

    • 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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Concerts

    • 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.

By: Paula Edelstein AXS Contributor Jul 18, 2014

 

Upon hearing Gary Gray’s remarkable new Centaur Records album titled Shades of Gray, some people will undoubtedly ask, “Is it Classical or is it Jazz?” The best answer is in the words of the great Duke Ellington, who said: “There are two types of music – good music and the other kind.” After one listen, you’ll know that the music on this recording is without a doubt – good music. In fact, it’s great.

shades-of-gray-CD-smThe virtuoso clarinetist Gary Gray is University of California at Los Angeles’ respected Professor of Clarinet and Chair of Woodwind Studies. He has a luminous sound that has been featured on more than 1000 film and television scores and as a leader on three previously released Classical music recordings. However Shades of Gray showcases Gary Gray’s commanding Jazz artistry in duets with an array of revered artists including such Jazz luminaries as guitarist Kenny Burrell, pianist Bill Cunliffe, and bassoonist Judith Farmer, among others. The interplay and synergy of the players is radiant from the first note of George Gershwin’s “Three Preludes” to the last note of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Wave.”

For starters, Gary Gray and James Cohn’s new arrangement of Gershwin’s set of “Three Preludes” (1927) for solo piano is now a duet for Gray on clarinet and Bill Cunliffe on piano. This classic/jazz standard combines the classical form of three movements (Allegro ben ritmato e deciso; Andante con moto e poco rubato; Allegro ben ritmato e deciso); with jazz content in Gershwin’s own inimitable style. As Gray’s sweet and lovely clarinet tones are beautifully underlined by Cunliffe’s reflective accompaniment, this song reaches a new level of clarity and beauty.

“Three Short Stories for clarinet & bassoon” (2003) features Gray on clarinet with Judith Farmer playing the bassoon. Their combination of Jazz and Latin American music with a classical music technique elevates this Gernot Wolfgang composition to an accessible level for novices of all ages. “Uncle Bebop,” “Rays of Light,” and “Latin Dance” comprises this three movement suite which contains uptempo unisons, lyricism and a fast, lively piece of music that explores Latin American rhythms.

“Blue Muse” is absolutely splendid. Gary’s introspective clarinet melody accompanied by the great Kenny Burrell on guitar successfully brings out their mellow blending of instrumentation. They take the listener on a serene musical journey that you will reflect on time and time again. Gary’s solo is brilliant and his top-to-bottom command of the clarinet is impeccable. Kenny’s solo is just as pretty with its mellow chord voicings that caress and hold you in the purity of the music.

There is no denying the popularity of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The piano and clarinet duet arrangement of this masterwork includes the main themes and much of the original piano part but it expands the clarinet’s role to that of a melodic partner. It is gorgeous and does not detract from Gershwin’s original orchestral version.

Two bonus tracks round out Gray’s program – the Billy Strayhorn/Duke Ellington ballad “Lush Life,” and Jobim’s “Wave.” The arrangements feature stunning clarinet soloing and memorable tenor saxophone work by Gary Gray, Juliet Gray’s spoken word accompaniment and Bill Cunliffe’s stellar pianism.

Overall Shades of Gray is an excellent recording and should be in your jazz/classical collection. It is the perfect simultaneous introduction to two of the world’s most wonderful genres of music. The duets are excellent pieces for performances by chamber music ensembles, piano/clarinet recitals or just for lounging and listening and enjoying some great music.

Listen to Gary Gray

2008 Grammys

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

garygrammys

Click on the photo above to hear Gary play.