Downbeat Best of 2012
Very honored that "Meridies" made Downbeat Magazine's Best of the Year list for 2012! Thanks again to Clark Sommers, Noah Preminger, and Mark Ferber for playing so great and to John Bishop and Terri Hinte for their support. If you haven't checked it out yet, you can download it for only $1.99 until the end of the month.
4 Stars for Meridies in Downbeat!
Thanks to everyone for their support of the record this year! We got a great review in Downbeat this month and are looking forward to making more music in the year ahead.
It's hard to believe the year is almost half over and summer is finally here! It was a busy spring for me here in New York, highlighted by the album release of Meridies at the Kitano on April 19. Speaking of the new album, it's been getting a great response and I couldn't be happier with how everything has turned out. Positive write ups in the New York Times and Jazz Times, a great interview by Jason Crane for his excellent podcast, and strong radio airplay across the country have given the release some nice momentum and strong sales from my new web store (hint, hint, cough, cough). And due to my overwhelming largesse, or perhaps just my complete laziness in updating the site, the price to download the album is still only $4.99!
The summer is looking nice and busy as well. Read on below for details about our trip to Galesburg, the CD release in Chicago next weekend, as well as a new jazz series at Bahr Che in New York. At the end of the month, I'll be performing with guitarist Doug Wamble's large ensemble at the State Theater in Portland, Maine. He wrote a killer suite inspired by William Faulkner--check it out here.
As always, thanks for your support and hope to see you out in New York or Chicago soon!
Galesburg and Chicago CD Release @ Andy's Jazz Club
I'm psyched to be coming back to the midwest for some gigs next week! I'll be bringing Noah Preminger with me from New York and meeting up with old friends Clark Sommers and Matt Carroll in Chicago. Our first stop is Galesburg on July 14 for the Knox College Thursday NIght Jazz Series. Not sure if I have any fans in that part of the state or not, but if so it would be great to meet you! You can get more info here.
On Friday and Saturday June 15-16, we'll be celebrating the release of the new CD at Andy's Jazz Club in Chicago. Sets are at 9:30, 11:00, and 12:30 and the cover is $15. Andy's is located at 11 E. Hubbard, near the corner of Hubbard and State. Hoping to see a lot of old friends and fans!
New Jazz Series at Bahr Che in New York
I'll be curating a new jazz series at a fantastic wine and cheese bar in the East Village--Bahr Che! Our first event is this Saturday night June 9 from 8-11 PM. Bahr Che is located just off Cooper Square and Astor Place--you can get more info and menus here. There will be a $10 music charge, but included in your admission is a free glass of their excellent wine. There will also be drink specials offered throughout the evening. I'll be joined by John Tate on bass and Shawn Baltazor on drums.
Jazz Session Podcast
I'm honored to be featured this week on the Jazz Session, a podcast produced by Jason Crane and available all over the world. You can subscribe in iTunes or just go to thejazzsession.com!
NY CD Release Party @ The Kitano Lounge April 19!
Join us April 19th at the Kitano (Park Ave. at 38th St., Manhattan) for the release of Meridies. The band will feature Noah Preminger (ts), John Tate (b), and Matt Wilson (dr). Sets are at 8 and 10, no cover, $15 minimum.
Winter News And Album Release
I realize it's been almost two years since my last update--but with the state of social networks and the overload of information we all get on a daily basis I figured I'd save it for something important. And I'm happy to say I finally have a new album coming out next month on Origin records featuring Noah Preminger (ts), Clark Sommers (b), and Mark Ferber (dr) and it's available for sale and download right now over in the Music section! For a taste of the rest of my life in NY, I've reprinted a recent discussion I had with friend and respected New York jazz writer/connoisseur Gus Chiggins below. We ran into each other on the subway and decided to have a few beers and talk about life at the local pub--on the record!
Guss: So how's life?
Dan: No complaints, man, no complaints. Everything is mellow.
Guss: You used to send out these dumb updates all the time--what gives? I thought you died or gave up on music!
Dan: Nope, still here flailing away. Does anyone even read email anymore?
Guss: Ah, indeed. Well, I guess you'll find out. So fill me in.
Dan: Well, here are the highlights. I finished up classes at NYU at the end of 2010, and my teaching appointment there ended in June. Over the summer, I filmed a pilot episode with a jazz trio for Comedy Central that may or may not see the light of day. In the fall, I went up to Mackinac Island in Michigan to play the piano every night for about 7 weeks. And then in November I was out in Boise teaching piano and enjoying life. And I'm happy to say I finally finished up the mastering of my new album which is coming out next month.
Guss: A new album! But I never got a Kickstarter email!
Dan: That's because I didn't do a Kickstarter. I find the whole thing kind of...depressing. Uncivilized even! I'd rather people buy my album because they like the music.
Guss: Sounds kind of like sour grapes.
Dan: Not at all, I'm staying positive. I just wish certain aspects of the scene were healthier--spiritually, musically, and financially.
Guss: Uh, that's pretty much everything.
Dan: Well, stay tuned for some blog posts--I might start writing again too.
Guss: Oh great, can't wait. Everyone's a blogger these days.
Dan: Hah! Sour grapes you were saying? I wonder who the internet has screwed more--writers or musicians?
Guss: You find ways to adapt my friend.
Dan: Indeed--the hustle never stops. That reminds me, I have to deposit my 2 cent royalty from Spotify tomorrow.
Guss: And I thought I was dark. So what does this album title mean? I looked it up online and it appears to be some kind of magical kingdom for special people who dress up like medieval kings, knights and squires. I thought the civil war re-enacters were nuts...but this...
Dan: Yeah, it's kind of unfortunate. They even have a website where you can create your own scrolls. Maybe you could get into that to make a buck?
Guss: Very funny. But really...why Meridies?
Dan: Well, the word "meridies" is Latin for midday or noon. It's a reference to a work by William Butler Yeats about the 35th year being the apex of creativity and life. Seemed apropos when I was writing the music. There's more to it, but you'll have to buy the album and read the liner notes.
Guss: Nice plug.
Dan: I try.
Guss: Well, good luck--I hope people actually buy it. But I think you should have hedged your bets and done a Kickstarter.
Dan: Maybe they'll buy it in thanks and eternal gratitude for not getting another Kickstarter email?
Guss: Uh, yeah...good luck with that.
"Meridies" Now Available For Sale Or Download!
I've finally got the website customized and up to date. Feel free to find me on Facebook or Twitter if that's your thing by following the links below. The store is also now set up to handle album sales and downloads through Paypal. No Paypal account? You can just enter your credit card securely through them without opening any accounts.
Remember, iTunes and Amazon take a hefty 30% cut on top of the distributor, so help restore some balance to the musician's digital universe by buying direct from me if you like what you hear. Special pre-release pricing of $7.99 for the album download and $11.99 for the CD. I'll even send you audiophile lossless tracks for free--just send me an email to let me know!
June in Chicago
I've had a great year in New York, but I'm happy to be back in the Chicagoland area for a short time this summer. We have a busy month in June, and hope to see you out at one of our upcoming performances in the area...
After 9 1/2 years of playing weekends at the Rhythm Room, I'm sad to say our tenure is coming to an end at the end of June. I'll be there this weekend and the weekend of June 18 on both Friday and Saturday from 7-11 PM. My last night there will be Friday June 25. It's been an amazing run of gigs, and a great opportunity to develop my sound on a consistent basis with some of Chicago's finest musicians. If you've enjoyed hearing us there over the years, I hope you'll make one more trip out to say goodbye. And feel free to drop Cinemark an email telling them exactly how much you'll miss it!
Trios Jazz Club-- June 11 and 12, South Bend, IN
We're happy to be making another trip to Herb Wilson's excellent jazz club Trios in South Bend on the weekend of June 11. We'll be performing as a trio on Friday and with our good friend vocalist Randy Kelly on Saturday. The gig starts at 9 PM ET.
The Naperville Jazz Festival --June 19th, 5 PM
We'll be the opening act for the Naperville Jazz Festival this year, which will be held at the Community Concert Center in Central Park. We don't make it out to the western suburbs too often, so I hope to see a lot of old friends there!
Thanks for your support,
Happy New Year
Happy New Year! It's been a busy year for me, with some memorable performances and significant life changes. I moved to New York in August to begin work on a Masters Degree at NYU, while also experiencing everything the city has to offer in terms of culture and music. I'm also getting valuable teaching experience as an Adjunct Professor at NYU, teaching non-major jazz and classical piano. So far, so good--I'm really enjoying the change of pace and the challenge of trying to keep up with the frenetic pace of New York. I have been making regular trips back to Chicago to perform, and I don't see this changing anytime soon--there's too many people I love playing with! On that note, I have a series of gigs here over the next few weeks--it would be great to see all of my Chicago friends before I head back to New York in the middle of January.
This weekend I'll be playing three nights at the Rhythm Room in Evanston:
Tonight, December 31, 2009: New Year's Eve Party at the Rhythm Room:
9PM-1AM with Clark Sommers on Bass
Friday January 1, 2010: Dan Cray Trio with Clark Sommers and Greg Wyser-Pratte, 7PM-11PM
Saturday January 2, 2010: Dan Cray and Geof Bradfield, 7PM-11PM.
If you can't make it this weekend, I'll be playing a few more times in Chicago after this weekend--you can see the full schedule under Gigs.
Thanks to everyone for their support over the years, and all the best for a happy and healthy New Year.
Chicago Jazz Festival This Saturday!
We're excited to be performing at the Chicago Jazz Festival this weekend! We'll be doing an hour long set Saturday on the Jackson stage, beginning at 1:10. Saxophonist extraordinaire Geof Bradfield will be joining us as well. You can see the full schedule of events here.
I'll be spending a lot of time in New York this year, so if you've been thinking about coming out to hear us this would be a great time to do it!
Millenium Park Tonight
Made in Chicago Jazz Series at Millenium Park Tonight
I'll be performing tonight at Millenium Park in Chicago as a member of the Chicago Improviser's Orchestra. We'll be playing Elbio Barilari's "Lincolniana" as well as the suite "Sounds of Hope." It's a musical journey from Lincoln to Obama, and begins at 6:30 in the Pritzker Pavilion. You can find out more at http://www.millenniumparkconcerts.org/madeinchicago/
It would be great to see you!
Spring News and Elbio Barilari Ensemble
I hope this finds you well--hopefully you're ready to finally thaw out after this brutal winter! I know times are tough, but it would be great to see you at one of our gigs sometime soon. Here's what's going on over the next couple of weeks. . .
Elbio Barilari Ensemble
I'll be playing piano with composer Elbio Barilari's new ensemble, at a series of concerts as we perform his pieces "Lincolniana" and "Sounds of Hope," written for Abraham Lincoln and the inauguration of Barack Obama respectively. The complete schedule can be found at my website or at www.elbiobarilari.com, but some of the noted dates are tonight at UIC, May 14 at Northeastern University, and July 30 at Millenium Park.
Friday May 1, 9PM ET:
Dan Cray Trio @ Trio's Jazz Club, South Bend IN
We're happy to back at the hippest place in Indiana this month. Great food and a great place to listen to music. With Greg Wyser-Pratte on drums and John Tate on bass.
Saturday May 2, 8:30ET:
Dan Cray Trio @ Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Detroit MI
We're thrilled to be playing at the legendary Baker's Keyboard Lounge, the oldest jazz club in the nation. Everyone from Miles and Trane to the best of today's musicians has played Baker's. We'll be performing as part of the 75th anniversary of the club. With Greg Wyser-Pratte on bass and John Tate on Bass.
Fridays and Saturdays @ The Rhythm Room, Evanston
Our longstanding steady gig at the Rhythm Room in Evanston continues this Spring with a trio on Fridays and a duo on Saturdays. I'm usually there on Saturdays with saxophonist Geof Bradfield, but over the last few months I've featured great players like Bobby Broom, Jeff Parker, and Eric Schneider. There are a few dates I'm missing, so check the website before you come or come out anyway and hear the infamous Someone Good. www.evanstonrhythmroom.com
Michael Keaton's "The Merry Gentleman" in Theatres May 1!
You might remember that about 2 years ago we were personally selected by Michael Keaton to be the jazz trio on screen at a Christmas party in his directorial debut "The Merry Gentleman," which was filmed here in Chicago. After a long wait, it seems they finally secured distribution and the film will be opening May 1st in Chicago. I know for sure it's playing at the Century in Evanston, home of the Rhythm Room. Pianist Ryan Cohan saw the film at Sundance and apparently we survived a trip to the cutting room floor at that point, but I can't be 100% sure we made the final cut. But it will be fun to find out!
Dan Cray Trio featuring Geof Bradfield @ The Chicago Jazz Festival September 5!
We just received word that we've been selected to perform at the 2009 Chicago Jazz Festival on Saturday September 5. We'll be doing a few trio tunes and then featuring Geof Bradfield for the rest of the set. It should be a lot of fun. . .
Hope to see you soon,
Last Night At The Morse
I hope you'll join us Wednesday for what could be our final performance at the beautiful Morse Theatre. Due to problems with investors, it's quite possible the Theatre will close at the end of the month. This is yet another setback for the Chicago jazz scene and arts community in general, which are getting pummeled from all sides. Someone actually went out of their way to add an ammendment to the stimulus bill to ensure that funds would not be used for "wasteful" things like theatres, arts centers and museums. We're not "real" workers apparently. True work in America is moving money around on a computer screen while creating nothing. And when you crash the system and ruin the country in the process you simply print more money and give it to the same people so they can do it all over again. Brilliant.
We plan to go out with a bang regardless and I hope you'll join us.
The Dan Cray Trio featuring Vocalist Sarah Marie Young
Wednesday February 18, 8-11 PM
with Clark Sommers and Greg Wyser-Pratte
Thanks for your support,
I hope this finds you well and surviving this brutal winter! I know it's all too easy to stay inside and hibernate, but we'd love to see you out sometime this month. Here's what's going on over the next couple of weeks. . .
Wednesday February 4, 8PM:
Dan Cray Trio w/ vocalist Jesse Palter @ The Morse Theatre
Our Morse Theatre series continues this month, featuring up and coming MIchigan native Jesse Palter. Jesse has shared the stage with Geoffrey Keezer, Christian McBride, Greg Hutchinson, Avishai Cohen, Sean Jones, Rodney Whitaker, Ron Blake, Carl Allen, Joel Frahm, just to name a few. Admission is only $7, and if you eat at the Century Public House up front you get in free. Check out www.themorse.com for tickets and more info.
Saturday February 7, 9PM ET:
Dan Cray Trio @ Trio's Jazz Club, South Bend IN
We're happy to back at the hippest place in Indiana this month. Great food and a great place to listen to music.
Saturday February 14, 7 PM:
Dan Cray and Clark Sommers @ The Rhythm Room
Come celebrate Valentine's Day with us at the Rhythm Room. Clark will be in town and I'm sure he'll have a lot of good stories from his time on the road with Kurt Elling.
Wednesday February 18, 8PM:
Dan Cray Trio w/ vocalist Sarah Marie Young @The Morse Theatre
Sarah is another rising star on the Chicago scene. A vocal chameleon, she stays true to her own unique voice, deep rooted in gospel, with a creative jazz edge. Her loyalty to tradition, beautiful interpretation of the standards, and joyful presence go together to give a memorable performance. Again, admission is only $7 and free if you eat dinner. Check out www.themorse.com for tickets and more information.
Saturday February 28, 7 PM:
Dan Cray and Bobby Broom @ The Rhythm Room
Guitar legend Bobby Broom joins me tonight in a duo setting. We've had the opportunity to do several of these lately, and they've been some of my favorite musical experiences of the past year.
Hope to see you soon, we need your support!
All the best,
I hope everyone had a great holiday season! Here's what's going on over the next couple of weeks. . .
Tonight, Wednesday January 7, 8PM:
Dan Cray Trio w/ Kimberly Gordon @ The Morse Theatre
Our Morse Theatre series returns this month! Clark is in town and will be joining me and Greg tonight as we feature one of my favorite singers in town, Kimberly Gordon. Admission is only $7. Check out www.themorse.com for more info.
DCT on Gossip Girl Monday January 12, 7PM CT on the CW!
Unless the scene ends up on the cutting room floor, my song At Least off of the album "Over Here Over Heard" will be heard in some capacity during this Monday's show. The picture above give you some idea of what to expect if you decide to check it out!
Wednesday January 21, 8PM:
Dan Cray Trio w/ Paul Marinaro @The Morse Theatre
I'll be joined by Greg and bassist Joe Policastro as we feature vocalist Paul Marinaro. Paul is another one of my favorite vocalists, a real musician who works on his craft and can find the meaning in a lyric. It will be fun to accompany him with a real piano for once too! $7. Check out www.themorse.com for tickets and more information.
Hope to see you soon!
I hope this finds you well, despite the bad weather and ever worsening economy. Thanks to those of you who made it out to the Jazz Showcase for our CD Release party in September. The disc has done quite well on radio, and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.
I'm happy to announce that www.dancray.com has received a complete makeover courtesy of the talented guys at Artgig Studios. There's a full e-commerce suite (including digital downloads), downloadble press kit files, and even a blog for my occasional rant. :)
In an effort to better relate to PUNKY and her friends, I've also set up Dan Cray Trio pages on Facebook and YouTube, so if you're a frequent user of either check them out. The YouTube page currently features videos from our CD recording at Pops and the release party at the Jazz Showcase.
In other news. . .
The Morse Theatre Wednesday 11/26 w/ Hinda Hoffman
If you haven't heard about it, the Morse Theatre has opened in all its splendor in Rogers Park. It's truly a breathtaking venue, with all the amenities AND a 9 foot Steinway! I'm going to be doing a series of Wednesday performances, with our first on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. I'll be playing with a trio and featuring the wonderful vocalist Hinda Hoffman. Tickets are only $7--check out www.themorse.com for more info.
Flash Drives Now Available!
Thanks to some creative thinking and design from Greg, we're now offering custom 2GB Flash Drives with any of our CDs pre-loaded on them for $19.99. The music files are encoded in CD quality audio and can be moved freely to any device or computer. The drive is not write protected, so you're free to use it for anything you'd like. You can also purchase a flash drive with our last 3 CDs in high quality MP3 format for $29.99. They make excellent gifts--check out the STORE for more info!
CD Release Party September 22!
I'm happy to announce that our new CD "Over Here Over Heard" is finally finished! We'll be doing our CD release party on Monday September 22nd @ the new Jazz Showcase in Chicago. Sets are at 8 & 10, and the cover is $10.
The CD is currently available for purchase on the website in both physical form and DRM free high quality MP3.
If you're a prisoner of Apple/itunes, you can find it there as well.
Hope to see you on the 22nd!
Idlewild Jazz Festival and Other Gigs This Week
I hope you're enjoying your Summer! We have a bunch of fun gigs this week, including appearances in South Bend and at the Idlewild Jazz Festival in Michigan. Hope to see you soon. .
Tuesday July 29: Pops for Champagne in Chicago from 9:00 PM -12:00 AM with Clark Sommers and Greg Wyser-Pratte. We've had a great time at Pops this month--Clark is back in town for the finale.
Thursday July 31: Lake Forest Day in Lake Forest IL, 6:30-8:30. Dan Cray Trio with the Derrick Stout Orchestra.
Friday August 1: Dan Cray Trio at Trio's Jazz Club in South Bend, IN. We're looking forward to playing at this great new club in South Bend for the first time.
Saturday August 2: Idlewild Jazz Festival, Idlewild Michigan. Dan Cray Trio at 4:30 PM, and the Dan Cray Trio with Detroit vocalist and headliner Shahida Nurullah at 8:00 PM. We're honored to be playing at this historic festival in Idlewild. If you're unfamiliar with the history of Idlewild in relation to the civil rights movement, the Chicago Tribune did a great feature on it, which you can read here. Robin Eubanks and Eric Alexander will also be appearing at the festival.
Enjoy the rest of your Summer, and stay tuned for more info about the new CD!
April News and a Conversation with Punky
I hope this finds you well after a long and brutal winter. I can't tell you how happy I am to see the sun shining (at least for a few hours a day) and the White Sox starting off the season on the right foot! We've been busy mixing the live recording from last November, and hopefully it will be out within the next few months. We also recorded vocalist Marc Courtney Johnson's latest album in January and are getting ready to work with another talented singer from Indiana, Randy Kelly, on his new album next week. Clark is doing quite well in NY if you've been wondering. He'll be back in town playing with us this Friday and next weekend at the Rhythm Room, so be sure to come out and say hi!
Here's our schedule for the next few months:
Wednesdays from 7PM-11PM @ Pete Miller's in Wheeling
Fridays from 7PM-11PM @ The Rhythm Room Century Theatres Evanston.
I'm also playing most Saturdays at The Rhythm Room from 7:00-11:00PM in a duo setting, usually featuring Geof Bradfield on saxophone. (Clark will be playing with me on Saturday April 19th). Be sure to check the website for the updated schedule.
Finally, a Moment of Zen for you, as John Stewart would say. As you may remember, my song "Good Bye" was featured on the TV show Gossip Girl a few months back, and judging from the Myspace and itunes action it actually made some kind of impression on our impressionable youth. But the experience has also given me an inside look at teen culture and language, and it's an eye-opener. Here's a transcript of my Myspace conversation with a girl who goes by the name iitSz Punkii. From what I can tell, this translates to either "I is Punky" or "It's Punky." Punky to me is Jim McMahon, as in "the punky QB known as McMahon," so I guess 20 years later, it's hip to be punky again! Anyway, this is heavy on a bunch of different levels.
------------------- Original Message -----------------
iitSz Punkii: hey im wondering if it was your song that i heard on one of my favorite shows the other day..i tried 2 look 4 it but ur version is the goodbye instumental i guess..umm i was wondering if u could do me a favor by putting up the normal version and leting me know if im rght about that song...pleae get back 2 me..thankyou...
Dan: Hey there-- If you're talking about "Gossip Girl," this is the right song. No words yet! It's a jazz instrumental--you can check it out on itunes too. Thanks--
iitSz Punkii: OH MY GOD!!LOLZ I REALLY LIKE THAT SONG!!WELL UMM WHEN WILL U B ABLE 2 PUT IT UP??U KNOW WIT THE WORDS?PLZ LET ME KNOW.THANK U!
Dan: Hey iitSz Punkii,There are no words! It is what it is. . . Best, Dan
iitSz Punkii: fine but u dont have 2 b a jerk about it..well it suckz without the words so u may as well delete ur whole pg...=]...
----------------- Original Message -----------------
Any budding lyricists out there? Let's create some "normal" music together. . .or not. Hope to see you soon!