N E I L   G R A Y   M U S I C

B I Os

As a 15 year veteran of the Western Canadian music scene Neil Gray has played in many styles including Funk, Country, Blues, R&B, Dub/Reggae, Drum+Bass, Bebop/Hardbop, Big Band Swing, Brazilian/Argentinian folk music and Afro-Cuban. These many styles, rhythms and textures have influenced him both as a player and as composer drawing him towards hard swinging, punchy rhythms that burst with life and slow, burning ballads that play out the human condition - both suffering and joy.

His current focus is to bring out and solidify his chops in the music closest to his heart; Jazz, specifically the genres of Hardbop and Bebop. Strongly influenced by musicians such such as Art Blakey, Jimmy Cobbs, Art Taylor and Max Roach, when it comes to drum kit playing Neil focuses on a propulsive, no nonsense, swinging sound with the intent to light a fire under the band - pushing the music to new heights.

As a pianist Neil is self taught and started his journey to learn the piano as a teenager after realizing that the study of harmony and melody would give him a better understanding of the music as a whole. His earliest influences on the piano came from the Blues and Gospel and he began to learn old church hymns, rag time pieces and blues/early jazz material. Eventually he started attending local blues jams where he played piano, drums and occasionally sang. As his skills improved he became more and more attracted to the sounds of players like Red Garland, Wynton Kelly, Tommy Flanagan, Cedar Walton and Bobby Timmons, each of which display a sensitivity to the blues while also creating sophisticated Bebop/Hardbop lines. Neil continues his self taught journey on the piano through transcriptions and studying harmony and arrangement.

In the realm of composition Neil draws significant influence from the established giants of the swing and bebop eras, specifically the sounds of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Billy Stayhorn, each of which established their own approach to harmony and melody, carving out a sound which is immediately identifiable. Along with these titans comes the influence of later composers in the Hard Bop arena such as Bobby Timmons, Cedar Walton, Wayne Shorter and Lee Morgan whose gospel and blues infused compositions injected the genre of jazz with new life.

Neil began his work as composer by arranging riffs, licks and vocal melodies written by other members of the various bands he has played in. Eventually after working in man different projects that were abandoned by other members he realized he needed to create and propel his own band in order to create some solidity in his musical life - relying on other people to front and manage projects meant that he would have to take a backseat to their vision so instead he went to work building his own vision which can be seen in his debut EP - “Steppin’ Out”.