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Canadian Heritage

Charlie Gray


CHARLES (CHARLIE) GRAY (trumpeter, flugelhornist, pianist, arranger) is a Toronto musician who graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he majored in composition. The respected trumpeter has backed dozens of international luminaries including Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Melissa Manchester, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, The Spinners, Mel Torme, Lena Horne, Ann Margaret, and Harry Connick Jr., and twice toured internationally with Anne Murray. He has been a featured player at the Atlantic Jazz Festival with Kirk MacDonald, Doug Riley, and with his own Charlie Gray Quintet. He played trumpet with Peter Appleyard at the Swiss International Jazz Festival in Bern, and was a featured soloist on the SCTV Television Series.

Gray is also a prolific composer, with credentials that include documentary scores for TV Ontario and the Government of Canada, as well as the award-winning documentary, ‘Sealing Fate’. With his brother John Gray, Charles co-wrote songs and the underscore for Stratford and Alabama Shakespeare Festival productions of ‘Pericles’ and ‘Prince of Tyre’. He completed an electronic ending for ‘A Thousand Ages’, the final work of the late Canadian composer, Harry Somers, which premiered in Winnipeg in early 2000. The work was also performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra on Remembrance Day, 2001. A recent transcription has been recorded by the Hannaford Street Silver Band on a CD entitled ‘Voices on High’ featuring the men of the Amadeus Choir.

During the 1990s, Gray arranged and produced four CDs for mezzo-soprano Hiroko Motomiya of Tokyo, a widely-sold Japanese opera singer. He also arranged for and produced a double CD set of 26 Zen spiritual songs for artist/Zen Master, Mr. Chiba of Tokyo. In Canada, he composed music for television themes, feature films, and commercials including signature music for CBC Radio News and Sports, their coverage of both the Calgary and Seoul Olympic Games, ‘The World This Weekend’, and ‘This Morning’.

Gray’s jazz compositions have been featured on CBC’s ‘Jazzland’ with his own bands and by various other artists

In addition to maintaining a busy recording and performing career, much of it in orchestra pit bands for hit shows playing in Toronto, he continues to write and record his own compositions, masters recordings for other artists, and work with digital audio in its many forms at his own studio.

Charlie Gray was a member of Memo Acevedo’s Banda Brava when they performed in concert during the “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Series at the Ontario Science Centre on March 12, 1979.