In the intersection of Christian and Contemporary
jazz Ray Lyon has his field of activity. His studio is called Balsam
Pillow studio, a name a program.
Foundational to Ray's approach to his music is his Christian faith;
that which he calls a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ. "I
received Jesus as my Savior when I was 14 years old, and ever since
then have been held by his grace." Ray believes that all music, and
the talents that he has, are a gift from God and he seeks to glorify
God by portraying what he believes is beauty, truth, and hope in his
Ray Lyon has released on his own label Burning
Blue Records three albums, Farewell To Shadowlands (1993),
Figures Of The True
(2000) and in 2007 Beginning To See. His albums are
Christian inspired. His music immediately reminds at Pat Metheny and
Lyle Mays. Ray relates, "I felt like I had heard that music before,
and I will never forget the first time I heard "Are You Going With
Me?" I was floored. That tune expressed much of the concept I was
after, though unformed in me. I could relate so much to the way they
made music, the dramatic concept, the emphasis on the solo as a
"composition", and the structural form. Lyle Mays' playing resonated
with my own orchestral style of playing and it was Pat's musical
vision and concept that so harmonized with my own. Their music, and
dedication to their craft, is a constant source of inspiration for
Experts of Ray's music know that his CDs are
pre-planned concept albums with contemporary jazz themes. One can
consider his music as unified art, not simple as a collection of
songs. Although Beginning To See is a one-man-project, Ray
performs nearly all instruments with the exception of some support of
musical friends, the album is absolutely perfect and stands
comparison with professional projects of major labels.
The album starts with Up The Spiral Stairs.
The song features vocalist Rick Krive who is not only an incredible
singer and jazz pianist, but one of the most sought after music
arrangers in the music industry today. He performed among others with
Gloria Estefan. Currently he is involved in the project The Circle.
Ray adapted the lyrics of the song from The Diary Of An Old Soul
by George McDonald. McDonald's use of fantasy as a literary medium
for exploring the human condition greatly influenced a generation of
such notable authors as C. S. Lewis (who featured him as a character
in his The Great Divorce), J. R. R. Tolkien, and Madeleine
My personal favorite on Lyon's album is Keep
Going. This tune is the answer to Are You Going With Me?
from the album Offramp by Pat Metheny. Ray first called this
tune "Pat On The Back" before he changed the title. You can feel and
hear that heart touching deja vue effect as if you would listen to an
undiscovered secret record of Metheny. Without any doubt Ray has
reached this high level of authenticity following Lyle Mays'
harmonica-like synth theme or Pat Metheny synth Roland guitar lead.
It is hard to free from Metheny's spell but with
Is It You Or The World? Ray sets his own milestone in
contemporary jazz. What a virtuosity and mastership in piano
performance. Unforgettable and ingenious. Surfing on the wave of
dreams Ray delivers with Warrior Joy the next mountain. In
the middle of the tune Ed Maina jumps in with his furious tenor sax.
On The Smooth Of The Hill is featuring
anew singer Rick Krive. The combination of vocals and orchestral synth
reminds me of Jon and Vangelis, although this comparison fails because
of the Metheny-inspired structure and composition of the song.
So we are back again with Beginning To See
in the soundscape of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. Ray has inhaled the
complex harmonic and metric structure of Lyle's musical signature. He
is building suspense through gradation and ascension like Lyle does.
The contemplative piano/synth tune Even Now A
Glimpse finished this remarkable album with cautious tones.
Deeply impressed by the beauty of this album I
recommend Beginning To See as a start-up to a new increased
hearing habit, a further step into contemporary jazz.