Perhaps best known as long-time pianist for Lyle Lovett, Tim Ray’s wide-ranging skills as a soloist and accompanist have afforded him the opportunity to perform with legendary performers from all walks of music. Appearing on over 70 recordings to date, Ray has performed in concert with an extensive list of pop music icons, notably Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Jane Siberry, and Soul Asylum. He regularly performs with leading figures in the jazz world, among them Gary Burton, Esperanza Spalding, Dave Douglas, and Brian Blade, and his classical credits include solo performances and concerts with Gunther Schuller, the Boston Pops, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.
"I think my goal as a teacher is to find that special thing—whether it's an exercise, a concept, or just something for them to listen to—that kind of flips the switch. I think for me that's the biggest reward, getting to know students and then finding that one or two things to really advance them as players. That's the improvisational part of teaching, finding those tools that enable me to better communicate with students and then enable students to improve themselves."
"I consider myself a full-time performer. I think that's a lot of what informs my teaching, things I've learned either on the road or playing gigs locally. I've always been primarily a jazz pianist, and that's certainly what I enjoy doing the most. But I've also played with the singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett. I got connected to him through other musicians, and after subbing for a few years I ended up doing that full time. I was on the road all the time, and that was a great experience. I certainly learned a lot. I also got involved with some other singer-songwriters—Jane Siberry, Victoria Williams—and some rock groups."
"One of the things I try to communicate to my students is the idea that when you're in school, you try to absorb as much as you can in terms of music and styles and just open yourself up to as broad a spectrum as you can. Because you never know when an opportunity will come along that's going to take your career in a different direction. That's what happened to me. When I was in college, I thought, 'I'll just be a jazz piano player,' and then all these other things came up. The next thing I know, I'm doing all these great things, traveling all over the world, playing with all these incredible musicians, but not necessarily playing jazz all the time. So I try to open myself up to all these different opportunities."