Horace Bray is an extremely talented guitarist and a close friend of mine. In this interview we talk about his upcoming album Dreamstate, booking a home-grown tour, his chosen gear, and more. You can learn more about Horace at HoraceBray.com.
Born on December 24th , 1991 in Los Angeles, California, Horace Bray began playing drums at age 10 but later picked up guitar at age 14 when he was living in St. Louis, Missouri. His first guitar teacher was Corey Christiansen, who he studied with privately for a year. Bray cites Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck as his earliest guitar influences before discovering jazz through his lessons with Christiansen. “I was really into Grant Green and Wes Montgomery early on, then got deeply into Kurt Rosenwinkel in high school,” he recalls.
Bray was involved in an after-school jazz program run by Jazz St. Louis and was a part of their top group taught by guitarist Rick Hayden. “I chose to leave Missouri for college because I needed a change in my life and a kick in the ass to push me to get better,” Bray says.
In 2010, he enrolled at the University of North Texas, where he played with the UNT Jazz Singers, the Four O’Clock Lab Band, the Two O’Clock Lab Band and the One O’clock Lab Band (as the first undergrad guitarist in 15 years to hold the guitar chair in that prestigious group) before graduating in 2015. “My time at UNT was good and I met a lot of great musicians and people there,” says Bray. “Being around people like professors Ed Soph and Stefan Karlsson was really inspiring.”
While currently residing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Bray is planning to relocate to New York City in the near future. “I was planing on moving to New York after I graduated from UNT, but I decided that if I wanted to record an album it would be a lot easier to record it in Denton with the people who knew my music well. So I made the decision to postpone the move for a year or two so I could finish my project. I still travel to New York to perform, play and record with people there.”
Bray has self-produced and released Dreamstate. His auspicious debut as a leader features ten original compositions performed by a crew of former fellow students at UNT, including bassist Mike Luzecky, keyboardist Colin Campbell and drummers Matt Young and Connor Kent. “I really wanted to have this album be an example of what I could do if left to my own devices,” says Bray of his maiden voyage in the studio. “I didn’t want it to be the traditional ‘my first jazz album out of college,’ where you play ‘Giant Steps’ and your arrangement of that one standard in seven and it’s really fast, and that kind of thing. I still love playing standards and that’s a big part of my life, but I didn’t want this first album to be about that. I wanted it to be a little bit more delicate, but it was also important to me that there was a dance-iness to the music, at least parts that were.”
Bray succeeds on all points on the impressive Dreamstate.
“Horace Bray is one of those artists I’m glad I’ve run into in the past and should definitely be one of those voices you should know.” –Nextbop: Anthony Dean Harris
“Possessor of a wonderful ability to extemporaneously create beautiful and interesting melodies” –One O’clock Lab Band: Lab 2014 liner notes by Steve Wiest
“Pretty damn talented” –Nextbop: Anthony Dean Harris