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Horace Bray - 'Dreamstate'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Follow guitarist Horace Bray on Instagram and one often sees little sketches of ideas. Follow him for a while and one can see these little sketches come together. Bray is a technician, a recent graduate from the University of North Texas music school, and saying such thing about music school grads is pretty common these days in the jazz era. However, Bray has constantly managed to steadily grow his chops, gig about, and maintain a sense of soul in his accompaniment and particularly in his compositions. Dreamstate, Bray's long time coming debut album, best encapsulates this.

Some of these songs -- the title track, "Living With Imperfection", "Sooth" -- have been kicking around for a bit but are more fully realized now, polished, expanded. They've been put in the wild now and have received actual crowd reactions. They're good songs, soulful, expressive, with room for welcome solos. Bray is in top form, bluesy, reminiscent of Pat Metheny, a statement I didn't see coming before but the moaning throughout some of his songs, "3 4 5" in particular, takes some getting used to, in part because moaning and guitar playing seems so trademark Metheny (or George Benson). If this is where the idea is coming from, with some tweaking in time, it may not be such a bad idea.

Bray's compatriots -- bassist Mike Luzecky & drummers Connor Kent and Matt Young -- are bringing it as well, all familiar with one another's style through the Denton, Texas, scene. This is a good band of talented players. However, the string section that reveals itself in "Dirge for Mary Mallon" and album closer "Semantic Satiation" is outstanding. It's the second shortest song on the album and somehow the most resounding.

This may be because Bray knows how to compose, to create and release tension, to put proper elements in their place for the sake of enjoyment, and to do so organically and not necessarily mechanically no matter how much of the process that one may see in clips on Instagram. For Bray is a technician, hell, he's an engineer, and the best engineers know that the best design comes from nature. His songs make sense, they move, they groove, they're in the vein of jazz that is modernist, expressive, and pleasing to a smooth-loving crowd with a bit more complication than that. These songs, this album, takes place naturally, as if it were (altogether now) in a Dreamstate. It takes a masterful technician to make something that well.

Horace Bray - Guitar, Vocals
Colin Campbell - Keyboard
Mike Luzecky - Bass
Matt Young - Drums (1, 2, 3, 5, 8), Post-production (6, 9)
Connor Kent - Drums (4, 7, 9, 10)
Hale Baskin - Vocals (1)
Allison Pontier - Vocals (1)
Josue Alan - Vocals (1)

Drew Zaremba - String Arrangements

Jesus Saenz - Violin
Amy Wang - Violin
Karina Sim - Violin
Channing Hooper - Violin
Usman Peguergo - Violin
Ethan Rouse - Viola
Sabrina Mackenzie - Viola
Debbie Brooks - Cello
Kourtney Newton - Cello

Copyright : Horace Bray
Recorded and Mixed by Jake Greenburg
Mastered by Nate Wood
Co-Executive producer - Kean Songy

Dreamstate, the self-released debut album from guitarist Horace Bray is out May 20. Catch him on tour through Texas and the Midwest if you can…

5/23- Double CD release show with Addison Frei (Oak Point, TX)*
5/24- Firehouse Lounge (Austin, TX)^
5/25- FL!GHT (San Antonio, TX)^
5/26- Double CD release show with Mark Lettieri (Dallas, TX)*
5/30- Greenhouse (Denton, TX)*
6/4- Twilight Lounge (Dallas, TX)*
6/15- WGHS jazz camp clinic (Webster Groves, MO)*
6/16- Centene Jazz Education Center at the Steward Center for Jazz (St. Louis, MO)*
6/17- The Roadhouse (Webster Groves, MO)*
6/18- Elks Concert (Kirkwood, MO)*
6/20- Cafe Berlin (Columbia, MO)*
6/21 House show, Location TBA (Manhattan, KS)*
6/22 Roxy’s Cabaret (Wichita, KS)*

Mike Luzecky- Bass
*Matt Young- Drums
^Connor Kent- Drums

Nextbop editor Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current. You should follow him on Twitter.