About Larry Gray
Double bassist Larry Gray demonstrates an impressive versatility and an uncommon musical curiosity. Gray’s career has spanned more than four decades, during which he has and continues to perform in a wide range of styles, including, but not limited to, jazz and classical music. This diverse skill set and experience allows him to work with a broad array of students, including those preparing to perform in both orchestras and jazz combos.
As a classical musician, Gray served as principal double bass of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, where he worked with many renowned conductors, including Erich Leinsdorf, Rafael Kubelik, Sir Georg Solti, Carlo Maria Guilini, and Claudio Abbado. He also performed as substitute double bassist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Lyric Opera of Chicago, and in chamber settings with many prominent musicians, including flautist Jean Pierre Rampal and Music of the Baroque concertmaster Elliot Golub.
As a jazz artist, Gray has performed, toured, or recorded 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, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, Clark Terry, J.J. Johnson, George Coleman, Lee Konitz, Benny Green, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Eddie Harris and Les McCann. He has toured worldwide with many of these artists, as well as with Clark Terry, Frank Wess, Monty Alexander, Marian McPartland, Dorothy Donegan, and Ramsey Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell, Louis Bellson, Kenny Drew Jr. and Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Band. He was a member of and toured with the Ramsey Lewis Trio for twelve years, and repeatedly over the course of more than twenty years with Larry Coryell’s Trio, alongside drummer Paul Wertico.
Gray has performed in concert halls and clubs around the world, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl, the Village Vanguard, Ronnie Scott’s in London, Zawinul’s Birdland in Vienna, and the Blue Note venues in Tokyo, Nagoya, New York, and Milan. He is also a regular performer at such renowned jazz festivals as the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the ECM Festival, the Poznan Jazz Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Havana Jazz Festival, the Rio Sao Paulo Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Johannesburg International Jazz Festival, and the Ravinia Festival.
Gray has five solo recordings to his credit: Solo + Quartet; Gravity; 1,2,3; One Look; and Three Equals One. He has also appeared on many CDs as a collaborative artist, particularly during his twelve years as a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, such as Appossianata and Meant to Be with Nancy Wilson. Among his most recent recordings was Jack DeJohnette – Made in Chicago, recorded live on the ECM label at Pritzger Pavilion with Mr. DeJohnette joined by legendary improvisers Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, and Henry Threadgill. He also performed for several years with Larry Coryell’s Trio, alongside drummer Paul Wertico.
In addition to Made in Chicago, Gray’s other recent projects include his work with the Gray, Wilkerson, Ra Trio (featuring the internationally acclaimed Ed Wilkerson and Avreeayl Ra); his continuing work of his longtime trio with guitarist John Moulder and drummer Charles Heath; a duo project with Mr. Moulder; and performances with Wertico, Cain, and Gray, an improvisational trio with Paul Wertico and multimedia artist and improviser David Cain. He has also recently collaborated with Illinois faculty artists John Dee, Jonathan Keeble, Yvonne Redman, and Barrington Coleman in an evening of duos with double bass.
Gray’s work builds on his lifelong study of several instruments, including cello, bass, flute, piano and guitar. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in cello performance from Chicago Musical College, where he studied with Karl Fruh. As a cello student, he performed many solo recitals and played a great deal of chamber music; his unique approach to the double bass is informed by all of these experiences.
For more information, please see Prof. Gray’s website at www.larrygraymusic.com.
My approaches to teaching reflect my years of experience as a student and as a performer with so many great musicians. I am deeply indebted to and influenced by the many great artists with whom I’ve played and to my musical mentors. I believe my teaching to be focused yet fluid, with a dedication to the needs of the individual student, and an understanding of the very different paths required for the student of European interpretative performance and for Jazz students. For all a solid technique is important and as a teacher I strive to guide the student as needed in its development.
An understanding of musical style is developed through regular and informed listening, and through the development of the musical ear, and important part of musicianship. For the Jazz student the development of improvisational skills coupled with an understanding of Jazz styles is essential as is conceptions of phrasing and articulation for the interpreter. It’s also very rewarding for the classical student to have experience with improvisation in the same way that experience with Classical music is for the jazz musician. Ultimately, music
The active performance life here at University of Illinois ensures that students will have ample opportunity to apply the things developed in the teaching studio. I hope for all students that these achievements will lead to even more questions and a great start in a lifelong musical process.
BMUS and MM (performance), Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University