Sometimes it takes a tragedy to realize one’s true potential, and likely nobody knows it more than bassist Tony Grey, whose life took a turn at the age of 18 after a horrific car accident left him with a broken back. During his recovery, his father bought him a bass guitar and Grey really took to it, especially with the guidance of his guitar hero uncle, John McLaughlin.
Since that fateful accident, Grey has led a successful career with his bass. After graduating from Berklee with high honors, he has played with a who’s who of the jazz scene, including McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. He is also in Japanese piano virtuoso Hiromi’s band, but aside from being a sought after sideman, Grey has a healthy solo career where he can explore his own compositions. His latest release, Unknown Angels, is his third album as a leader, following 2008’s Chasing Shadows.
Unknown Angels is an intimate and personal record for the bassist from Newcastle, England.
“Before I started writing for this record I had a complete concept of a story I wanted to tell,” Grey says. “It’s like a journal of what’s going on in my life, from the musicians I chose to the tracks I wrote. It’s all one movement.”
The title track itself recalls Grey’s accident, and the incredible experience surrounding the ordeal.
“We have angels watching us through the different paths we encounter through our lives and maybe we are not aware of them watching out for us,” he explains. “When I had my car accident I ended up lying in a farmer’s field flat on my back. A man and a child came to help us. The man went to help the driver and the young boy sat next to me on the grass. He didn’t speak a word to me; he just sat there very calmly and held my hand until the ambulance arrived. He was so young and brave, it must have been a very scary situation for him, but his presence calmed me.”
Grey adds his personality into his compositions to reach out to people, saying he is more interested in making music that moves others, not just technically impressive tunes.
“I want the music to take the listener on a journey if they close their eyes, and to feel connected to my world. I hope it can help them reflect on their life too.”
Preview and download Unknown Angels: