Monday, June 24, 2013

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico Reeds - Homage to oboe master Ray Still, beauty is a rare thing.

What distinguishes Ray Still from other oboists is his incredible expressiveness and rock-solid rhythm.Much like a jazz player, Mr. Still has a _time feel_that is totally his own, awesome feel, phrasing and brings a beauty to each note and phrase. I was not surprised through the years to occasionally talk to one of Ray Stills students and find out he was also a jazz fan, enjoying the music of greats like Lester Young, Louie Armstrong and vocalists like Billie Holiday. Not surprising but also very inspiring too. - Ray Still was with the Chicago Symphony for 40 years, during which time he made hundreds of orchestral recordings, many solo appearances and some solo recordings with the orchestra. His favorite solo recordings with the Chicago Symphony are the Mozart Oboe Concerto, Claudio Abbado conducting, and Bach’s Wedding Cantata with Ravinia Festival orchestra (CSO) members Kathleen Battle and James Levine. He has played much chamber music and done extended coaching while attending the Aspen Festival in Colorado, the Marlboro Festival in Vermont, the Festival in Vasa, Finland, Canada, with many master classes in China, Europe, Mexico, Japan, China, and Korea.His recorded chamber music includes Oboe Quartets of Mozart, Stamitz, JC Bach and Wanhal with Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Lynn Harrell for EMI; the Poulenc Trio for Teldec (with John Perry, piano and Milan Turkovic, bassoon); the Schumann Romances and Hindemith Sonata with John Perry (Teldec). His Poulenc and St Saens Sonatas plus two of Thomas Still’s compositions will be released at a future date. He has also recorded the following: The Strauss Concerto, the Bach Oboe d'Amore Concerto, the Marcello Concerto and Sinfonias from Cantatas 156, 12 and 21 (Virgin Classics) with Richard Stamp and the Academy of London Chamber Orchestra; Bach’s Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin, recorded by Still in Israel with Itzak Perlman and the Israeli Philharmonic Strings; The Bach Wedding Cantata, 202 for RCA with Kathleen Battle, the Mozart Quintet for Piano and winds with James Levine (piano) and Chicago Symphony first chair players.In May of 2001 Nimbus Records issued a CD called The Chicago Legend . Nimbus considered it a tribute to Still’s entire career. This included the Bach Sonata in G (also known as flute Sonata in B), The Handel Sonatas in G and C, a Vivaldi Sonata in G, and three Telemann Partitas (2, 5, and 6.) The Bach Sonata in G was made in Sweden with his older son, Thomas, playing the harpsichord.Still organized the Chicago Symphony Winds, basically an octet, which performed all the works of Mozart (for winds alone) in a series of five concerts at the University of Chicago. The group has recorded the Serenade #11 of Mozart, direct to disc on Sheffield Records. "It's a long murky life being an oboe player." Ray Still - MY QUEST HERE...Is to instigate appreciation and awareness for Ray Still a master musician. He is someone I refer to when I need inspiration. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, or hearing him live. I have recordings of his amazing playing and have marveled at his message. To hear the masters like Ray or great violinists and orchestras.I was lucky, to grow up as a student in Boston, and be able to hear the Boston Symphony at a discounted rate with my Berklee ID. My teacher Joe Viola instigated every and any effort to get us face to face with a world of musics other than our own. Awareness developed, inspirations were ignited and also our scope as players widened. OK- Let me say this as well.Listening with an open mind is an important aspect of music, not only in jazz and other improvised music, but also of classical music. Upon hearing Mr. Still, I bought records that he was on, and devoured it ravenously over the years, seking more and upon doing so, learning more about the oboe, more about the music and more about why I loved the oboe. I don't think that this blog could do a man with a career like this justice: I think he is one of the most remarkable players that I have ever heard.Over and above all,listening and studying Ray Still conveys a passion for excellence that is splendid and riveting. - I studied with Charles Major Morris of the Philadelphia Orchestra on oboe as well as Joe Viola while at Berklee. Playing the instrument improved my saxophone playing, opened the door for my bassoon ideas later and helped me attain a perspective I would NOT of had without it.On the face of it, this man has had my attention for decades. As I objective seems is to convey to the reader some of paths and journeys I have taken, and been inspired by. I hope this blog on Ray Still instigates you to search out his recordings, hear him,transcribe his phrasings as I have done and just let the music become lunch for your wears as well as enjoyment.I daresay that musicians of all levels and mind sets will find a lot of interest here as well while checking out oboe master Ray Still. Enjoy your travels in the music,remember to eat right,think right and LISTEN right.Anyway, that’s all for now. Keep on your path- Tim Price

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this great post! I'm one of Ray Still's granddaughters. He is 93 years old, has just moved to Vermont, and is still playing! His next-door neighbor is a piano teacher, and he played for her students at a recital this past Saturday. I shared your blog post on Ray's Facebook page (

    --Madeline Still Bergstrom