Veteran educator and jazz pianist Tim Ray pays homage to some of his musical heroes with a piano trio album simply entitled Fire & Rain. It features various well-known standards from those who have been a major influence in his career, along with three original tunes added to the mix. Joining the pianist on this new adventure are familiar band mates, bassist John Lockwood and drummer Mark Walker, originally together for a Greg Abate concert and then for the Abate album Motif (Whaling City Sound, 2014). Since then, the group has performed as sidemen as well as a leading band of their own, gaining a reputation as one of the finest trio groups in the business.
Ray writes that the trio format is "one of the great ensemble innovations of the last century," further concluding that "What makes an ensemble of piano, bass and drums so satisfying is the harmonic space...the rhythmic and coloristic focus...and a sonic balance" infused into the music. Who's to argue? All of those elements seem to work out quite well here, resulting in an impressive and dynamic session of music one will revisit often.
One of Ray's musical influences was the legendary Thelonious Monk who he pays tribute to on the opening hard-swinging Monk piece "Bye-Ya," followed by the band's beautiful treatment of Oliver Nelson's oft-recorded standard "Stolen Moments." Antonio Carlos Jobim, another of Ray's heroes, is covered here with a performance of one of his lesser-known compositions "Mojave," which is one of the outstanding tracks of the set.
Other tribute pieces here include the Carla Bley song "Lawns" (actually a Bley tribute to the late pianist Larry Willis), Keith Jarrett's "The Windup" and Oscar Peterson's "Nighttime." The James Taylor title song "Fire & Rain" enjoys two performances here, with a lengthy nine-minutes plus track, and the final track, a radio edit version of less than five minutes duration.
Each player contributes an original tune to the album, with Ray's "No Worries," Walker's "Moon in the Sea," and Lockwood's "The Meeting: The Jbug and the Kman" rounding out the set. Fire & Rain is an exceptional recording by this trio, and goes a long way to not only affirming Ray's feelings about the trio format but also adding to their well-deserved reputation as one of the most formidable jazz trios around.
Bye-Ya; Stolen Moments; NO Worries; The Meeting: The Jbug and the Kman; Mojave; Theodore the Thumper;
Fire and Rain; Lawns; Moon in the Sea; Improv #1 (for Chick); Nighttime; The Windup; Fire and Rain (radio
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.