BM and MM (cello performance), Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University
Bassist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Larry Gray, who joined the School of Music in 2007 demonstrates an impressive versatility and an uncommon musical curiosity. Mr. Gray has enjoyed a four decades plus career in which he has performed and collaborated with a long list of some of the world’s most important jazz artists, including Jack DeJohnette, Larry Coryell, Steve Turre, Gary Bartz, Barry Harris, Benny Golson, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Williams, McCoy Tyner, Ira Sullivan, Jackie McLean, Sonny Stitt, James Moody, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, Clark Terry, J.J. Johnson, George Coleman, Lee Konitz, Benny Green, and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Eddie Harris and Les McCann, among many others.
He has five solo recordings to his credit, Solo + Quartet, Gravity, 1,2,3, One Look and Three Equals One.. Among many projects as a collaborator or sideman, he appeared on many CDs during his twelve years as a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, including Appossianata and Meant to Be, with Nancy Wilson, and many other jazz recordings. Through the years, he has toured with many artists, including Jack DeJohnette, Larry Coryell, Joe Williams, Clark Terry, Frank Wess,, Monty Alexander, James Moody, Marian McPartland, Dorothy Donegan, Steve Turre and Ramsey Lewis, appearing at many important festivals and concert venues worldwide.
More recently he is heard on the ECM recording Jack DeJohnette-Made in Chicago, recorded live a Pritzger Pavilliion with Mr. DeJohnette joined bylegendary improvisers Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, and Henry Threadgill. He also worked for years with Larry Coryell’s Trio, alongside drummer Paul Wertico. Other recent projects include Gray Wilkerson Ra Trio, featuring the internationally acclaimed Ed Wilkerson and Avreeayl Ra, his own longtime trio with guitarist John Moulder and drummer Charles Heath, a duo project with Mr. Moulder and an improvisational trio with Mr. Wertico and multimedia artist and improviser David Cain, Wertico Cain and Gray. One other recent collaboration was an evening of duos with double bass and U of I faculty artists John Dee, Jonathan Keeble, Yvonne Redman and Barrington Coleman.
Larry has toured extensively, performing at jazz festivals and clubs, including the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, The Montreaux Detroit Festival, the ECM Festival, the Poznan Jazz Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, the Havana Jazz Festival, Rio Sao Paulo Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Johannesburg International Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl, Village Vanguard, the Blue Notes in Tokyo, Nagoya, New York and Milan, Ronnie Scott’s in London, Zawinal’s Birdland in Vienna, and the Ravinia Festival, with such jazz luminaries as Marian McPartland, Clark Terry, Nancy Wilson Roscoe Mitchell, James Moody, Larry Coryell, Louis Bellson, Barry Harris, Dorothy Donegan, Monty Alexander, Frank Wess, Joe Williams, Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Band, and Kenny Drew Jr. Larry toured the world as the bassist in the Ramsey Lewis trio from 1998-2010.
As a lifetime Chicagoan, Larry Gray's musical history is quite rich and varied, including his classical studies and degrees in cello performance at Chicago Musical College, his history as a double bassist in Civic Orchestra and as substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and inumerable recordings and performances in Chicago's concert and club venues, most notably the iconic Jazz Showcase, and its major recording studios..
Larry has recorded with Jack DeJohnette, Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, Ramsey Lewis, Nancy Wilson, Curtis Fuller, Ira Sullivan, Lin Halliday, Jodie Christian, Willie Pickens, Nicholas Payton, Randy Brecker, Bunky Green, Bob Moses, Irish musicians Larry Nugent, John Williams and Bohola, pop sensations Linda Eder, Dennis DeYoung, Jim Peterik and Peter Cetera, and songwriter Michael Smith, among others. The recording Jack DeJohnette Made in Chicago, is was released in March 2015 followed by a series of historic concerts including the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival Larry was seen on several episodes of the PBS series hosted by Ramsey Lewis, Legends of Jazz, with artists like Jim Hall, Clark Terry, Chris Potter, Phil Woods, Roy Hargrove and Benny Golson. He is an experienced studio musician, and his playing has been heard on numerous radio and television jingle and album projects. Larry Gray's website is www.larrygraymusic.com
My approach to teaching is by nature autobiographical, so it reflects my years of experience as a performer with a large number of jazz artists, as well as my history and familiarity with European Classical and many other styles. I view each student as an individual, with unique gifts and interests. One of my jobs is to expose them to new, different ways of looking at the musical process. This is an especially important point for the developing improviser. At the same time, I assess the student’s musical background, and we then work together to strengthen it, both in terms of instrumental technique and in the development of the ear. It is also of great importance to me that my students have a developed understanding of historical jazz styles and their technical elements in terms of performance. The teaching and study of jazz requires a balance between imitative and creative work and my students spend a great deal of time with both approaches. The active performance life here at University of Illinois ensures both that students will have ample opportunity to apply the things developed in the teaching studio and also that these achievements will lead to even more questions.