Tim Ray: Excursions and Adventures

Rob Rosenblum By

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Tim Ray: Excursions and Adventures
Although hidden away in classrooms at the Berklee School of Music or as the accompanying pianist with vocalist Tony Bennett, Tim Ray is a pianist of the highest order and this album offers all the evidence needed to prove the case.

Ray's supporting cast are two exceptionally subtle and responsive players—John Patitucci, who is best known for his acoustic bass work with Chick Corea, and Terri Lyne Carrington, whose drumming reflects the sophistication of her mentor, Jack DeJohnette.

The album kicks off with a simple, bluesy "Nothing For Nothing" by Billy Preston, which barely hints at the depths that the trio explores further into the album. The real adventure kicks in with the West Side Story staple, "Maria." While this tune has often been treated as some kind of torch song, Ray approaches it with thoughtfulness and gives it dignity. There is more than a touch of Keith Jarrett in his chords and quiet melodic escapades. This is followed, oddly, by yet another ballad—Ray's own "Gone, Not Forgotten." Patitucci and Carrington are present yet unobtrusive, weaving in and around Ray's melodic statements. The bassist's beautiful tone and lyrical sense are outstanding in this touching melody.

Although Carrington plays an important role on every track, coloring and shading the background, she is featured on both "Paint it Black" and "Yo 11" and her solos are as far from bombastic as you can get, utilizing the various shades and colors that she can draw out of her drum kit. Her expositions are quiet melodies snuggled within the greater context of the songs.

"Paint it Black" itself is a fascinating exploration into a popular Mick Jagger and Keith Richards tune. Who would have thought anyone could have found so much fertile ground in a popular rock tune? But Ray and company make it their own. It is performed toward the middle of the session and then repeated in shorter form at the end (presumably to attract radio play).

This is a well produced, compelling example of how much can be done with a piano trio. Ray and company have obviously devoted a lot of time and thought into this production as opposed to putting together just a bunch of solos and eight bar exchanges on common jazz and popular standards.

Track Listing

Nothing From Nothing; Maria; Gone, Not Forgotten; Paint It Black; Trinkle Tinkle; Unconditional Love; Messiaen's Gumbo; Yours Is My Heart Alone; Samsara; Yo 11; Paint It Black.


Tim Ray: piano; John Patitucci: bass, acoustic; Terri Lyne Carrington: drums.

Album information

Title: Excursions and Adventures | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound

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