Tank Masters Series

Scot Ray

Slide guitarist Scot Ray is a genre bending improviser and composer. Previously a trombonist with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Jason Mraz, Nels Cline, Vinny Golia, and Francisco Aguabella, Scot here applies his lifelong fascination with portamento and the non-fixed pitch to lap steel guitar.

Scot recorded Vessel at the Tank in the last week of September, 2017.

Scot Ray writes:

What can I say about The Tank? Since I was a kid playing trombone I have been intrigued by how the architecture of a space interacted with the sound I was producing, sometimes reflecting it back in soft folds off of the surfaces – endless hallways, gymnasiums, theatres, tiled bathrooms – as if to inject a small dose of helium into the notes and make them expand. In that way, The Tank was a big dose of ‘helium,’ and that catalytic element became my sonic partner. And, as in any improvisation with another player, I tried to listen and experiment to see what excited the conversation, what I needed to omit, how much space could be sustained, what the pace and patterns of response were, how harmonies were received as opposed to linear lines, etc. Through that process these ‘solo’ guitar pieces became a kind of dialogue ‘in duo’ with the cylindrical architecture of the tank, discovering how I could converse with it’s reverberant responses, how it’s ‘helium’ altered the normal order of events – attack, sustain, decay, and so forth. In this way we, The Tank and I became springboards for each other’s timbral vocabularies.

Recorded by Samantha Wade
Mastered by Wayne Peet, Newzone Studio

Scot Ray lived in LA for years and currently resides in a small mountain town in southwestern Montana with his wife Hayley Nolte, who is a recycled metal artist and jeweler. Avid gardeners, together they grow most of their food and maintain a small orchard, also traveling about the states and intermittently abroad for art and music. “The seasonal engage and retreat,” he writes, “seems to work pretty well, at least at this stage in life!”

DMG writes about Scot’s “astonishing slide guitar work:” “Mr. Ray is able to add sublime harmonies with his steel guitar, carefully bending notes as a magician or magic partner.” Touching Extremes calls him “a sensible master of the objective sliding truth . . . on the same level of Ry Cooder and Sonny Landreth,” adding “he’s a diversified velvet-touch fingerstylist whose evolved phrasing fuses past and future seamlessly, a true joy to hear – and not only for guitarists.”

Along with a number of solo slide guitar ventures, oftimes engaging a plethora of pedals and ‘intelligent processing’, Scott has produced recent projects including two releases on the Italian label Long Song Records: Second Earth with Jim McAuley (“A guitarist’s nirvana!” writes Massimo Ricci) and The Scot Ray Quartet with Bill Barrett, Steuart Liebig, Alex Cline (“Troubled lullaby, mournful intensity, Moroccan Bo Diddley and a lot of soul,” says Metaljazz,). He’s also released a long distance collaboration, Dua Kepala Kelapa, with legendary sonicnaut Mike Cooper (“Two fine and adventurous slide guitarists. Oddball melodicism, Hawaiian-ish washes, noise, off-kilter electronics and more,” notes Brian Olewnick) and YAR with LA new music pianist Vicki Ray on Orenda Records (“Truly a delicious sonic experience,” writes New Classic). Scot also plays on Steuart Liebig’s Men-tot Six (“Postmodern approach to the funky blues. Music for the mind and body, says Greg Burk) and Gutpuppet with harmonicist Bill Barrett (“Sparks fly throughout! Zealously recommended,” notes All About Jazz).

Purchase Vessel here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *