Ray Lyon - website

Mission Statement

Ray is a jazz and ambient keyboardist, composer, producer, and recording studio owner/engineer who has independently released four instrumental CD's on his own label Burning Blue Records.


Born on April 18, 1957 in Newport News, Virginia, Ray began playing piano when he was six years old. Raised in England and south Florida, he now resides in Waynesville, NC, a small town in the mountains of west North Carolina.

As a youth, Ray studied classical piano with the renowned Argentinean concert pianist Raul Spivak. He also studied jazz piano with Vince Maggio (University of Miami) and Chuck Marohnic (Florida Atlantic University).

Collegiate studies were at Palm Beach Community College, Eastman School of Music, University of Miami (FL), and Florida Atlantic University where he graduated in 1982 with B.F.A. in music (jazz arranging and composition).

Musical influences and inspirations: (in no particular order) Antonio Carlos Jobim, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jan Hammer, Gino Vannelli, Bela Bartok, Wayne Shorter, Isao Tomita, Vince Mendoza, Toots Theilemanns, Pat Metheny, Igor Stravinsky, Lyle Mays, Mark Isham, Brad Meldhau, Yellowjackets, Claude Debussy, Claus Ogerman, Liz Story, Weather Report, George Benson, George Duke, John Rutter, and almost anything with a lot of reverb.

Besides being a veteran jazz keyboardist and pianist on the south Florida music scene for many years, Ray was a member of guitarist Randy Bernsen's Ocean Sound Band and recorded on three of his albums along with such luminary jazz artists as Jaco Pastorius, Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock. Ray has also performed with jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie, trumpeter Ira Sullivan, saxophonist Ed Calle, and flautist Nestor Torres.

Ray has been actively involved with recording engineering since 1980, and has owned and operated his own studio, Balsam Pillow, since 1992. He was also a co-owner of Spectrum Recording Studios, a popular south Florida recording studio, for several years.

Ray has produced, recorded, mixed and and/or mastered projects for Erin O'Donnell, Jackson Bunn, Randy Bernsen, Nestor Torres, Richard Brookens & Yellow Bell, Pam Rozell, Athenas, Vicki Richards, Scott Marischen, Billy Bones, Relative Viewpoint, Matt Johnson, Rick Krive, Valerie Z. & Paris, Warner Brothers Publications, Abaco Music, and Calvary Chapel of Ft. Lauderdale, among others.

In 1993, Ray released his debut CD, "Farewell To Shadowlands", on his own independent label, Burning Blue Records. In the style and range of such artists as the Pat Metheny Group and Mark Isham, this project features atmospheric smooth fusion jazz inspired by passages in the Bible as well as the highly acclaimed allegorical epic "The Chronicles of Narnia" by theologian and philosopher C.S. Lewis. Featured on this album are guest appearances by guitarist Randy Bernsen, saxophonist Ed Maina, former Weather Report percussionist Robert Thomas, Jr., Blue Man Group drummer Jeff Quay, and two time Grammy Award winner pop/latin vocalist Jon Secada.

His next CD, "Figures Of The True" was released in June of 2000. This project is a compelling collection of contemporary jazz tunes that combine exquisite textures and grooves, soaring synth lines and burning piano solos into an exciting mix that is richly panoramic, evocative, and inspiring. Joining Ray on this CD are guest appearances by bassist Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), drummer Jonathan Joseph (Al Jarreau, Pat Metheny, David Sanborn, Joe Zawinul), and Blue Man Group drummer/musician Jeff Quay among others.

Ray's third CD, "Beginning To See", (2007) continued to develop and expand the palette of contemporary jazz styles found on his earlier works with a diverse and eclectic mix of instrumental and, now, for the first time, vocal music. Infused with a radiant, airy sound, the project ranges from funk to straight ahead jazz to tone poem and beyond. Vocalist Rick Krive gives outstanding performances on adapted lyrics penned by the Anglican devotional writer Evelyn Underhill and Scottish poet George MacDonald.

Many of the songs are solo instrumental pieces featuring Ray playing and sequencing all the instruments. Joining Ray are guest appearances by saxophonist Ed Maina, and drummers Jonathan Joseph, Jonathan C. Genck and Mark Griffith. "Beginning To See" stands out as a project with epic tunes, engaging melodies and lyric beauty.

On his latest project, "Lucid Dreaming", Ray takes a stylistic right turn from contemporary jazz and expands his musical vision with an entirely solo project of extraordinarily deep ambient soundscapes. Reminiscent of such artists as Brian Eno and Stars of the Lid, "Lucid Dreaming" creates a harmonically expansive musical environment that evokes atmospheres of shimmering beauty, warmth, and peace. Perhaps unique in this genre is the inclusion of passages from the Bible for meditation and contemplation.

On the horizon in the contemporary jazz genre is the anticipated release of "In The Day Of Small Things" due in late 2009. Further expanding on lyric themes with vocalists Rick Krive ("Why it Rained") and Valerie Z., ("The Tree of Life") this project represents yet a further refining and development of Ray's signature style of melodic jazz. Guest appearances include drummer Jonathan Genck and bassist Matt Genck on several selections, as well as instrumental arrangements of the timeless hymn "Great Is Your Faithfulness" and the praise chorus "As The Deer".

Besides music and recording, Ray enjoys traveling, reading, bible study, meteorology, and spending time with his wife of 20 years, Stephanie.

Ray Lyon | email: balsampillow@bellsouth.net | phone: 828|734|7569

2009 Balsam Pillow, Inc.