Excursions & Adventures
Whaling City Sound
If you’ve never heard of Tim Ray there’s still a chance you’ve heard him. As a hired hand he’s played and arranged piano parts for everyone from Lyle Lovett to Aretha Franklin, via Jane Siberry and Bonnie Raitt, but maybe he’s not known as a jazzer. Never fear, not only does he have the chops indeed (he’s currently Tony Bennett’s musical director and a teacher at the famous Berklee College).
This album is worth it for Ray’s contributions alone – which I’ll get to. But it’s also worth it for the rhythm section alone: the great Terri Lynne Carrington on drums and a living legend of bass John Patitucci. So you could own this album – or want to hear it a few times at least – just for their playing and involvement.
But that’s not giving Ray his full credit. He’s sublime here as leader and as a rhythm player too. And the song selection is inspired.
We open with the delight that is Billy Preston’s Nothing From Nothing, a gem in any rendition I reckon but here we get to scope exactly how great this musical combination is and Ray shows full respect to the gospel, soul and boogie-bounce roots of the tune. There’s also a kick-ass solo from Patitucci, funky and playful.
Maria from West Side Story is next – I’d almost put it in the shouldn’t-work-but-really-does category. Gone, Not Forgotten shows the band in glorious ballad form – reminiscent of The Bill Evans Trio.
The real revelation here – another shouldn’-work-but-doesn’t cover is The Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black. Across seven and a half minutes Ray’s steady rhythm playing and expert invoking of the melody is accompanied by brilliant and overt ‘jazz’ playing by both Carrington and Patitucci. Her cymbals shimmer and her snare shuffles; his bass nudges and pokes and prods itself into place at various notice-points.
For Thelonious Monk’s Trinkle Tinkle it’s back to the Bill Evans Trio vibes but with extra playfulness from all components of the band. And just enough of a reminder of the stateliness of prime Monk.
Yours Is My Heart Alone from the 1920s Franz Lehar opera, The Land of Smiles, shines out with a great showcase for Carrington’s chops, her solo suggests Jack DeJohnette and Lenny White.
And Samsara – which is subtitled (For Wayne Shorter) might as well be for Patitucci, his solo warm and searching.
This is a lovely modern jazz album full of nice surprises and great comfort-food playing.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron