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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Three thinking as one

Had a great gig Sunday with my trio "Sean Bray's Peach Trio" at the Rex in Toronto. First off, if you haven't been to the Rex and you live in Toronto then you are really missing out and if you are planning a visit to Toronto, make it a must do. Great club right downtown on Queen Street. Has at least 2 jazz bands per night and is a great venue to really play out. The audience is usually well versed in seeing jazz and improvised bands so they know how to respond to solos etc. Unfortunately the Sunday night we played was a really frigid night and really the first of the winter so attendance wasn't what it would have normally been. That didn't stop the trio from tearing it up and the patrons who did brave the cold really digging it.

I love this trio. Mark Dunn on bass and David MacDougall on drums. I have played with Mark for some years now in various projects including my Peach Trio. He plays great and is really into the trio which shows. Dave is a newer addition and is a really great drummer who also gets inside the music and makes it breath and groove. I love having a band in the rock band sense where the personnel is the same and there are rarely subs. No charts, just close your eyes and play. The material I have written for the trio is a real hybrid of styles which definitely represent my listening habits. There are some roots and folk elements but always with a jazz improv treatment. The trio really thinks like one and is able to move and adjust during the tune, making it a real improvised performance. We rise and fall together dynamically and even hang on a section longer than the time before because it feels right.

We are planning to record this trio in March so I'll keep you posted.

I've been listening to:

Chick Corea & Origin "Change" 
I really dig this band. Chick is such a great writer and of course a fantastic piano player. This recording feature's Chick's sextet "Origin" which is comprised of Chick Corea - piano, marimba and hand claps, Avishai Cohen - acoustic bass, Steve Wilson - soprano and alto sax, flute and clarinet, Bob Sheppard - tenor sax, bass clarinet and flute, Steve Davis - trombone,  and Jeff Ballard - drums and hand claps. Great record.

Chris Potter - Underground
Chris Potter has grown to be probably the finest saxophonist of his generation or at least one of a very small handful. Potter has recorded some fantastic CDs as a leader and has appeared on many others as a sideman. Steely Dan, Dave Holland, John Patitucci to name a few. This recording features Potter on tenor sax, Wayne Krantz on guitar, Craig Taborn on Fender Rhodes, and drummer Nate Smith. Original sound for sure. Kind of a modern take on the bass-less organ quartet without the organ??? Wayne Krantz really shines on this record as he always does. Definitely pick it up!

Here is a video that my daughter Quinn shot at our Rex gig last Sunday. The trio does our version of a few cover tunes as well as originals. Here is Coldplay's "Yellow". Enjoy!

I give lessons in Toronto so if you are planning a visit to Toronto or live here already contact me at Internet lessons coming soon as well.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New York New York. So nice they named it twice.

Just got back from New York. Man what a great city. I have been there many times before this and lived and studied there but every time seems almost like the first. The culture in that city is staggering. Went to see the stage production of "War Horse" which was playing at the Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Centre. What a fantastic show. If you get a chance definitely go to see it. You won't be disappointed. I know it's coming to Toronto in February.

Got to see some great music. Caught Mike Stern at the 55 Bar in Greenwich Village. I have seen Stern in this little tiny bar before many times but always a great time. What a guitar player! This time he had Beyonce's drummer Kim Thompson who just plays great and Francois Moutin on bass. Those three were just smokin'. Stern was playing with a slide on one tune which is really new for him. Sounded great and knowing him he practised hours with it. He's known as a practise junkie which is a nice change from his older endeavours as just a junkie. I ran into a friend and fellow guitar player from Toronto named Ted Quinlan at the 55 Bar. Small world. If you get a chance to hear Ted it's worth it. He plays great!

Went to see trumpeter Tom Harrell at the Jazz Standard. He was leading an 8 piece band which was made up of Danny Grissett on piano, Wayne Escoferry on tenor and soprano sax, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, drummer Johnathan Blake as well as violinist Meg Okura, cellist Rubin Kodheli and Dan Block on flute. It was a great hybrid of modern classical and jazz. Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky meets modern jazz. Great writing by Harrell and his playing was brilliant as always. Tom Harrell suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, a severe mental illness that causes him to hear voices. He is on heavy medication to enable him to function which makes his musical brilliance even more astonishing. If you haven't heard Tom Harrell definitely go out and buy a CD. He's also coming to Toronto on March 16th performing at the Glenn Gould Studio in the CBC building.

I also visited an incredible guitar store called Rudy's Music Soho which is a new store and is a sister store to the Rudy's Music Stop on 48th st. This Soho store is stunning to say the least. I played a PRS acoustic and it was incredible. I didn't know Paul Read Smith even made acoustics but he does in small quantities and they are beautiful. Price tag of $10,500.00 it should be pretty nice. 

New term starting up at the Toronto Film School which will be a busy one. I teach music to film and Pro Tools there. Also have a recording session on Weds. which should be fun.

That's all for now.
My recordings are available on i-Tunes under "sean bray" if interested.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Goals.

Well the Christmas season has come and gone and although it's always great seeing family and friends and engaging in Christmas traditions, it's always nice to bring in a new year. New goals and fresh ideas. I plan to finish this guitar method book for sure. I'd like to make a few recordings with different groups I play with as well. My band Sean Bray's Peach Trio has a nice concert gig at the Old Mill in Toronto in March so I'm going to try and record that night. I also want to finish a duo recording of standards with bassist Mark Dunn which we started a while back. I love playing in that configuration. 

I received some nice CDs for Christmas which is always nice. You can never have too much music. One CD that really surprised me was Tony Bennett's Duets 2. I am a big Tony Bennett fan but not a huge fan of duet records with different guests on every track. I find they can be very disjointed to say the least. My other concern was that Tony is in his mid eighties and I have heard him lately on television and he wasn't at his vocal best but on this record he sounds fantastic. 

I've been listening to:

Bill Frisell's John Lennon CD "All We Are Saying". Really dug this. His usual trio of late (Tony Scherr on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums) augmented by Jenny Scheinman on violin and Greg Liesz on pedal and lap steel. Frisell always keeps it interesting for sure and is such a musical painter. His ensembles always sound great and unique.

Steve Martin's and the Steep Canyon Rangers "Rare Bird Alert". Man, Steve Martin has always been a fantastic comedian, stand-up and movies, but is also a  legit burning banjo player. The liner notes alone are worth the money. He does a bluegrass version of his 70's comedy hit "King Tut". Crack me up! As well as funny liner notes and some humorous lyrics the music is stellar. 

Sonny Rollins "Newk's Time". Sonny's glorious tenor sax sound. Does it get any better? Wynton Kelly on piano, Philly Joe Jones on drums and Doug Watkins on bass. Recorded in September 1957 at the famous Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ by Rudy Van Gelder. Van Gelder had a way of recording the musicians and the whole vibe of the room and the spontaneity of the moment. Well worth buying if you don't already have it. A must for any jazz collection.

I'm going to New York tomorrow for three days with my wife. I love that city. I lived there in the late 80's and it changed my life. We are going to see "War Horse" on Broadway which is supposed to be absolutely brilliant. Some critics say it's the best large scale play they have ever seen. We are also going to catch Brad Mehldau's trio at the Village Vanguard. I love that club and I love that group. Should be fun.

My band Sean Bray's Peach Trio will playing at The Rex Hotel and Jazz bar in Toronto on Sunday January 15th. Show starts at 9:30. The band plays mostly originals of mine with a few other well known tunes mixed in but played our way. Mark Dunn is the bass player in that band along with drummer David MacDougall.
Fun group.

That's all for now.