composer / filmmaker
Jack Gray
All content: Copyright © 2001-2015
by various publishers
Musica gratia artis:
Potpourri
 
Simple, and true
For my latest EP, I'm trying to create transcendent experiences,
where everything has been reduced to its essence.
Waves of wind, fields of grass
A handful of sand, tightly grasped
Here, amid the dust of long-dead stars
A headstone, shrouded by a dense thicket of weeds
(for JHG II)
 
I went to the art museum, but I did not laugh
(well...maybe once)
Short pieces that lie somewhere between popular dance music and (unpopular) art music. Available as an EP on iTunes, Spotify,
Google Play, Amazon, Napster, and CD Baby.
Like Clockwork
Nana Lupe's Daycare (dimly remembered, many many years later)
Nana Lupe's Daycare (as seen through the eyes of a child)
Small talk / Bartók
 
Commercials Julienne
I always try to produce truly original and unique things, but, of course, that's a goal which is very difficult (if not impossible) to achieve. This is one of my favorite pieces because I think it comes reasonably close to that goal. My recipe? Take several unsold TV/radio commercial demos. Pour into the musical "blender" which is my mind (for better or worse, sometimes!), and hit "liquefy". Yields a kaleidoscopic, euphoric, trip-like thing...with a beat. Bon appetit.
 
Wishing
A modern-day fairy tale for string quartet, piano, and narrator, wherein a man in mid-life crisis regains hope through the intercession of an angel, and the pure love of his four year-old son. Not completely autobiographical in that I didn't have any kids at the time (and, I have my doubts about the San Francisco Symphony ever playing my music...). The ending always chokes me up...can't help it. Wonderful performances by the Amabile Quartet, pianist John Akin, and producer Clarke Rigsby. Average performance by myself as narrator.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
 
Raindrops
I have mixed feelings about this piece. Although I love the music, I'm filled with a sense of helplessness at the events that inspired it. Essentially, it asks an age-old question, for which there is no truly comforting answer:
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?

In 1996, in Texas, a young girl was abducted while riding her bike near her grandparents' home. A child molester/predator passing by in a truck just snatched her up, and then sped away, according to the sole witness.

The girl's body was eventually found, but the perpetrator has never been caught. I can't imagine what she must have endured in her last hours, or the unspeakable pain her parents must live with each and every day, forever.

Rest in peace, A.H..
 
Raindrops, come play,
Come wash away my tears.
Tiny drops of rain,
Come rinse the pain from me.

They say that life's a bitch, and then you die,
And when you die, life goes on.
Well, I don't know the how, or when, or why,
I just know that my little girl is gone.

They said that some creep in a pickup truck took her away then next day the police found a torn little body and there ain't no doubt...

She played in the yard with her friends everyday now they stay in their houses and peek through the curtains, afraid to come out...

While I was at work,
Mom was baking a pie,
A neighbor ran after the truck as it drove by,
And now, only questions that won't go away:

What does God know?
Where did God go?
How can He say He loves us so?
Are You taking good care of her now?
Now that she's down in that cold, hard ground?

Raindrops, come play,
Come wash away my tears,
Tiny drops of rain,
Come rinse the pain from me.
 
Oscar Pianoson and The Fabulous Jazz Clowns
Oscar Pianoson is a famous jazz piano (no, not a pianist, he’s actually a piano!) who has had a long and storied career. If he has a flaw, it is that he’s a bit stuffy and doctrinaire about his passion for jazz. So, sparks fly (and the fun begins) when he finds himself playing a gig with (and receiving an unwanted lesson in musicology from) Clarino, the clarinet, and Accordio, the accordian - also known as The Fabulous Jazz Clowns.
 
Note: although I focused a lot of attention on speech inflection (trying to make the "verbal" utterances of the instruments actually sound like human English), I will admit that knowing the actual script can aid in appreciation and enjoyment of the piece, so here it is:
 
(Scene: Oscar Pianoson and his trio mates (Bass and Drums) are playing a gig with two sidemen they’ve never met before: Clarino, the clarinet, and Accordio, the accordian (whom we know as The Fabulous Jazz Clowns).

Oscar, Bass, and Drums start playing a tune, only to have the Clowns come in with an accompaniment that sounds much more like "Beer Barrel Polka" than Jazz.)

Oscar: "Hey. Hey! Hey, you two!!!! *&^@#*&^@%&^%&@#^%!!!! Clowns! What do you think you’re doing?"

Clarino (feigning shame): "I don’t know..."

Oscar (addressing Accordio): "And you... just what in the world were you thinking?"

Accordio: "Well, it just seemed to me to be kind of...boring."

Oscar (indignantly): "Boring?!? Well, you just play what the band...is...playing! OK?!?"

Clarino and Accordio (sheepishly): "O-K."

Oscar: "Good. Let’s start it up...again."

(Oscar and trio start again, only to have the Clowns enter even sooner than before...with more polka music.)

Oscar: "Hey! Hey!!!! *&^@#*&^@%(@*&#^&@%^#@(#)_$&@&$&^%&@#^%!!!!"

Clarino (slow on the uptake, as usual); "Uh-oh..."

Oscar: "What’s the matter with you guys? We start with an intro that goes just like this...(he plays the start of the intro)....then you stupid twits start to play like an ’ummm-pahh’ band (he plays some ’ummm-pahh’)...TRASH!!! WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU THINKING???!!!"

Clarino (feigning shame again): "I don’t know..."

Accordio: "Hey boss, if we played some good ’ummm-pahh-pahh’, we’d knock ’em dead."

Oscar (with false calm and civility, all the while furious inside): "Oh, yes? That’s what we should do? (Completely loses it.) YOU TWO IDIOTS!!! GET OUT!!! GO AWAY!!!"

Clarino and Accordio (sheepishly): "O-K." (They exit stage left.)

Oscar: "Good riddance! (To Bass and Drums:) Let’s take it from the bridge this time. OK?"

Bass: "O-K."

Drums: "OK, let’s do it."

(He gives the upbeat, and then they play the bridge. Just as they reach the climax, the telephone starts to ring.)

Oscar (agitated by yet another interruption): "DRAT!!! WHAT NOW?"

Bass: "I’ll get it...I’ll get it. Hello?"

Voice at the other end of the line (a poorly-disguised Accordio): "Evening! May I speak to..."

(He identifies Oscar by playing the intro to the tune Oscar’s been trying to play all night.)

Bass: "OK, just a minute..."

(Accordio giggles softly on the phone.)

Bass (speaking to Oscar): "It’s for you..."

Oscar (impatiently): "Alright, alright, I’m coming! (into the telephone): Well, what is it?!?"

Accordio: "Is this..."

(Once again, he identifies Oscar by playing the tune.)

Oscar: "Yes! So, what?"

Accordio: "Listen to this!"

(He starts giggling again.)

(***SPECIAL SURPRISE AT THIS POINT***)

(Oscar goes completely out of his mind with fury, and exits stage left to find the Clowns with the intention of giving them a sound thrashing. Just then, the Clowns re-enter the scene from the opposite end of the stage, bent over with laughter...)

Accordio: "That was a blast!"

Clarino: "Yep...what a stiff."

(He launches into "Beer Barrel Polka" again, while Accordio screams with laughter.)

Accordio: "I just about died... when we started to play this..."

(Accordio plays the ’ummm-pahh’ music, while Clarino guffaws in his goofy way.)

Accordio: "But the best part of all...was this one!"

(***SPECIAL SURPRISE AT THIS POINT***)

Bass: "Hey, guys...whatcha doing?"

Clarino (his credo): "I don’t know..."

Accordio: "Mates! Want to play something?"

Drums: "Oh yeah!"

Bass: "OK...but what?"

Accordio: "How about....this!..."

(They all proceed to take Oscar’s song, and turn it completely upside down and inside out...and, THEY ROCK!)

(As they finish, the audience erupts into thunderous applause. Clarino and Accordio chortle with glee at the ovation.)

Bass (all caught up in the applause, doing his very best Elvis imitation): "Thank ya...Thank ya...Thank ya very much."
 
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