Steve Gray

• Steve Gray, musician, born April 18 1944 Middlesborough England; died September 20 2008 The musical presence of Steve Gray. As a session keyboard player in the 1970s, he played for Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, Michel Legrand, Lalo Schifrin, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr, John Barry and many others, but he never regarded himself as a creative pianist and was shy of the role in the presence of the jazz players he loved. In the 1980s he was the keyboardist in the guitarist John Williams' crossover band Sky - participating in several hit albums - but played down his part. After he left Sky, his achievements might well surprise those who had only glimpsed his presence in the shadows. ...show more

• Steve Gray, musician, born April 18 1944 Middlesborough England; died September 20 2008 The musical presence of Steve Gray. As a session keyboard player in the 1970s, he played for Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, Michel Legrand, Lalo Schifrin, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr, John Barry and many others, but he never regarded himself as a creative pianist and was shy of the role in the presence of the jazz players he loved. In the 1980s he was the keyboardist in the guitarist John Williams' crossover band Sky - participating in several hit albums - but played down his part. After he left Sky, his achievements might well surprise those who had only glimpsed his presence in the shadows.

He wrote a guitar concerto for Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988, a piano concerto for the French jazz-piano legend Martial Solal, two operas and a requiem mass, orchestrated Brian Eno's works in collaboration with the composer, and much more. From 1991, he worked with the North German Radio (NDR) Big Band in Hamburg, conceiving with them a project devoted to the music of the South African Abdullah Ibrahim. Gray was born in Middlesbrough and began to teach himself the piano at the age of 10. He played bassoon in the Middlesbrough Municipal Junior Orchestra but gravitated to the saxophone section under the direction of Ron Aspery, who later founded the groundbreaking Yorkshire fusion trio Back Door.

Gray's ears were already teaching him all he needed. In his early teens, attending a Duke Ellington concert with Aspery, he began transcribing the music he had heard while on the bus on the way home. He eventually became a pit pianist at the Middlesbrough Empire, moved to London in the early 1960s, and joined a quartet led by the great British bop drummer Phil Seamen. Typically, he felt that he was lucky to get the gig and feared that Seamen would rumble his shortcomings. ...show less

Albums & Singles by Steve Gray