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Ray Guntrip: Bio

Ray Guntrip




OUT OF THE BLUE THE INSIDE STORY



Out of the blue is the debut CD of a prolific
but, until now, little-known British jazz
composer. Well-established on the local
jazz scene in his native Kent, Ray
Guntrip has more than two hundred compositions
to his name. Out of the Blue features the cream
of his tunes played by some of the UK’s leading
musicians. The enthusiastic involvement of two

influential figures on the music scene in bringing
Ray’s work to a wider audience is itself a testimony to
the quality of the music it celebrates.

The catalyst for the project was Gary Barnacle,
sometime tenor-sax player with Tina Turner and
Level 42, as well as a host of big-name bands from
Jamiroquai to David Bowie, the Clash and Phil Collins.
He was prompted to suggest a recording project after
playing a number of gigs with Ray’s band, Green
Machine. Gary also spotted an additional, and for Ray,
unexplored potential: the addition of lyrics.

An inspired recommendation brought Ray together
with Tina May, a vocalist with an international
reputation, whose recent projects with the legendary
pianist Ray Bryant and Bobby Watson, showcased

her skills as both world-class lyricist and singer.
Impressed with the strength of Ray’s compositions,
Tina added words that give an added dimension to
the widely contrasting moods of eighteen of his tunes,
nine of which are on this CD, from the tongue-twisting
Be-Bop - I Gotta Get Away From You! to the rocking
He’s Mr Twister and anarchic intensity of Demons
Dancing.

“I try to find a story in all these tunes, says Tina.
“What’s nice is when someone’s personality comes
through their compositions. These are quite quirky – I
like that. Be-Bop - I Gotta Get Away From You! was a
lot of fun. You know what it’s like when you get a tune
in your head and can’t get rid of it.

Squarely rooted in the jazz tradition, Ray’s
compositions have a harmonic or melodic twist that
gives them an unmistakable signature. Out of the blue
reveals the rich variety of his compositions. The 7/4
pulse of Demon Dance, slips from Tina’s hypnotic vocal
into a surging tenor exchange between Gary Barnacle
and Julian Siegel. Several other pieces have a Latin
feel, the two Mambo titles, Santa Maria Dance and
Out Of The Blue.






The 12-bar blues underpins He's Mr Twister, while one song, Is it love? puts a new head
on top of the familiar chords of the standard, What’s
this thing called love? For the most part, though, Ray’s
compositions follow their own harmonic path.

Without doubt, the twists and turns of these
progressions bring out some outstanding solos.
These range from the rapid-fire trombone of Mark
Nightingale, heard on several tracks including Be-Bop

- I Gotta Get Away From You! and That Mambo Beat,
to the exquisite tenor sax of Iain Ballamy on the title
track of the CD and the poised lines of Dick Pearce’s
trumpet on Santa Maria Dance.
Providing a rich harmonic context for Ray’s themes
are his arrangements played by, among others, Alan
Barnes on various saxes, trumpeters Stuart Brooks
and Enrico Tomasso, Nik Carter on alto sax, bassist
Alec Dankworth and drummer Tony Bianco. Most of
the musicians will be well known from other contexts:
Mark Nightingale is the trombonist of choice for many
groups, including Steely Dan, while Stuart Brooks has
been a Mike Westbrook regular and featured in George
Russell’s bands. All but one of the songs features
Tina May. Move That Mambo Way is sung by Laura

Knight, who also wrote the lyrics for this tune. The one
instrumental on this CD, Simple Simon, is an
up-tempo, high-voltage waltz whose title celebrates
the Canterbury pub of the same name where Ray’s
Green Machine has performed for several years.

Out of the blue features several regulars from Ray’s
bands: John Willis on drums and percussion, Steve
King, bass, percussion and vibraphone, Neil Francis,
electric bass, Damian Hawker on guitar who soloes
on Is it Love?, Dave Harvey, flute and soprano sax,
Jon Peel, flugelhorn, Lawrence Fletcher, bass clarinet,
Gary Barnacle, tenor, and Laura Knight, backing vocals
as well as lead vocal on Mambo Express. And last,
but not least, Ray himself is heard variously on grand
piano, organ and Fender Rhodes.

Aside from anything else, the musical spectrum
covered by Out of the Blue marks this out as an
exciting collection of originals. Together, these tunes
establish Ray, partnered by Tina May, as a genuinely
individual voice on the jazz scene.

Notes by Dave Harvey


© 2008 ray guntrip