I wrote these to satisfy my urge to compose short jazzy instrumentals. They would have to be sight-readable and easy to listen to. Something that, my own group for instance, could read through once then be ready to perform.

If you have a moment to listen/critique, thanks.  --Ray

Afternoon Song

Cedar Lane Waltz

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  • Ray, one thing that consistently impresses me about every one of your pieces that I've listened to is the tremendous variety you achieve, particularly in the arrangements. You put things in places where one maybe wasn't expecting them to go, and yet they always work.  Case in point - the percusion break at about 1'15" in Afternoon Song.  Totally could not have seen that coming, but it's really effective; it catches and reinforces your attention. And then less than a half-minute later a rock-inflected guitar solo.  One thing I also liked in the second tune, is that you weren't afraid to lean into dissonance in the instrumental solos, as those instances seemed to all pretty much resolve in a satisfying way. Really great stuff.

    • Thanks for listening, Frank, and for letting me know that some risks can be comfortably listened to. I don't want to come off choppy and non-musical. So thanks for helping me calibrate my bearings. Very helpful. --Ray 

  • I listened to "Afternoon Song". I found it bouyant and charming. The arrangement perfectly suited the ensemble. I was reminded a bit of Claude Bolling's approach to small ensemble. I thought the play of 2's (dotted quarter note rhythms) worked effectively. 

    • Hi, Gregorio - "Bouyant and charming" .... thanks for those adjectives! Now I know what to say to put the group in the proper frame of mind shoud they decide to play this. And thank you for the Claude Bolling reference. I think I remember his Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano... a long time ago. I must find it and listen. Really, thank you so much for listening and for sharing your kind thoughts.

      I'm still coming to grips with your piano music. Brilliant. --Ray 

      • Ray, this was a pleasure to listen to, and I was happy to offer my thoughts.

        I played in a quartet version of Suite for Flute and Piano - which was a lot of fun. We had a great bass player and drummer, and it went a little wilder than was prescribed :)

        Thank you for the kind words!


  • Very well written, played and recorded Ray.  It's very impressive that you play all the instruments here so well and that you can get a high quality recording as well.  Do you have your own studio?  Can you tell us what your recording sequence would be, which instruments are done first, do you use a click track? I doubt that I could perform one of these after only one read through though :)

    • Hi, Ingo - thank you for listening and for your favorable comments. I have a studio at home. A click track goes first, then I play piano (or guitar, depending) from beginning to end to lay out the song's form. I overdub other melodic instruments as the piece requires. The last things that go on are bass (keyboard bass) then drums and percussion.  I do this because an almost-finished song will dictate to me what the bass and drums should do. Bass and drums can lift or weight down a song, so I like to put those on last. If there are solo breaks and/or vocals, these will go on after all instrumental parts have been recorded and mixed.

      The click is always ON for the first couple of tracks. After that I decide track-by-track whether or not I have a credible pocket to play against.... if I don't hear a pocket I'll keep the click active. This is my "general" rule only. Sometimes something comes out better when I'm not listening to a click. 

      I don't compose in the studio and I only begin a recording when I have about 85% of a piece worked out in my head and written into charts. So the studio is almost strictly for exectution and not particulaly for creating. This lets me record to a schedule which is not only helpful for dealing with microphone setups, but also helps me define and focus on specific tasks per session. I always know the intended outcome so I prepare for achieving that thing. 

      Time is always allotted for testing microphone placement. And, for keyboard setups which may be played thru multiple stages of amplification, there's gain-staging that should be fussd with before tracking begins.  

      What I highly recommend for multi-instrumentalists who make their own recordings is a DAW that allows remote control via app that can run on a tablet, so that you can be working anywhere in your studio, behind the keyboard rack, at the drums, or over by that other thing you play, and have full control of the transport and headphone mix without ever going near your recording computer. 

      I hope this offered an answer. Please feel free to ask anything or tell me about your studio, as I love this stuff. -Ray

      • That's a great live recording manual Ray, make sure you save that. I know it helps me to hear about all those issues that are so important so thank you for discussing them.

        My own studio is basic, just a DAW, monitors, interface and a  couple of mics. My guitar goes straight in since I can't get as good a live sound as I can get with amp sims, but that's just me.  I'm just glad to have fun with it all and learn from people like yourself.


  • Listened to both of them. Everything flows so well and the twists in the rhythmical section keep things interesting till the end. I agree with Ingo, learning that you play all the instruments left me open-mouthed!

    Thank you for sharing!


    • Hi, Gabriele - thank you for taking the time to listen and comment. For the record, I used keyboard patches for the winds until I can resolve scheduling with the sax/flutist I intend on using to finish these demos. I look forward to hearing more of your own music when you post. --Ray

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