It didn’t take long for Ray and his wife, artist Doris B. Wright, to put Dave in music lessons, already working through recorder, classical guitar and piano by the age of 10. However, it wasn’t until middle school that Dave found a foothold in jazz, his father’s preferred genre, a style of music he was so expert in that he founded the Jazz and Contemporary Media program at Eastman School of Music when Dave was 11.
“Jazz is a big word,” Dave says when describing the genre, his voice colored by an immediately apparent enthusiasm. “It’s a big tent, with a lot of different corners. In my new album ‘There and Gone’ there’s jazz, rock, funk, world music — in the context of my music, I consider them all to be different corners of the jazz tent, but it’s an eclectic mix for sure.” Ray was equally entranced by the different corners of the tent, although his focus was even wider — while he specialized in jazz, he embraced music as a whole. His son applied that openness within his preferred genre, and displays that mindset with aplomb in the album ‘There and Gone.’
Perhaps even more interesting than the similarities between father and son are the differences. Ray wrote for an audience, for a reach as wide as it could possibly be. Although classically trained with deep interest in jazz, he studied popular music, and wrote for the people who listened to it, even if not within the pop genre. For Ray, music was both an art and a business — he had that business mastered and wrote at the highest level. For his son, music is personal. Dave writes music that he wants to hear, for an audience with a similar love for eclectic jazz.