Guitar Acoustic (DE), March 2020:
Silvan Joray is just 24 years old – and he sounds like an old hand. With impressive musicality and great inspiration, he plays his way through imaginative compositions on “cluster”. He can rely on a congenial trio to carry him through his rousing improvisations. The interaction and joy in the playing of the three jazz musicians make this CD a great journey of discovery through a fascinating musical universe. What a grandiose debut!
Badische Zeitung (DE), April 2020
From classical music to jazz
Swiss guitarist Silvan Joray presents his debut album at the age of 23 / Working in a trio
Along with the piano trio, the formation with guitar, double bass and drums is one of the classic small formations in jazz. The trio around Swiss guitarist Silvan Joray proves that this format can still produce exciting sound paintings. With "Cluster", the 23-year-old presents his debut, which makes you sit up and take notice.
Joray has already received several awards, most recently the Special Prize of the Jarek Smietana International Jazz Guitar Competition 2019, so far the highlight of his career. He was taught the ukulele and guitar by his mother at the age of eight. Later, he began studying classical guitar, to which he devoted eight years. Joray discovered the jazz guitar by accident. During his time at high school in Solothurn, he played funk and jazz in a workshop band. The freedom of improvisation thrilled him. He discovered pioneers of modern jazz guitar such as Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery, which gave him a completely new perspective on the six strings.
From his classical training, Joray was able to transfer some of his technique to the archtop and incorporate it into his playing. "That training was certainly very helpful; it supports the clean fingering of the left hand. With the right hand, classical guitarists play a lot of arpeggios, and that finds its way into my 'Cluster Song.' Here I play patterns that are more common on classical guitar," Joray explains. His hybrid technique, which uses both a plectrum and the fingers to pluck the strings, allows him to combine melody and chords in a contrapuntal way.
He has been studying at the Jazzcampus in Basel for five years. In 2018, he completed his bachelor's degree, and this year (2020) he will graduate with a master's degree in music education. In the main subject guitar, he was taught by the two exceptional guitarists Wolfgang Muthspiel and Lionel Loueke, not to forget his composition teacher Guillermo Klein.
Recording a debut album at the age of 23, which contains exclusively his own compositions and four improvisations, testifies to a healthy self-confidence, coupled with musical maturity. Since December 2018, Joray has been playing with double bassist Nadav Erlich and drummer Josep Cordobés. Together they developed a tightly interlocked melodic playing whose elements mesh like the gears of a proverbial Swiss clockwork. Quite deliberately, the trio decided against standards because, says Joray, "they wouldn't have fit into the overall aesthetics of the album." Compositions, musicality and interaction are on an incredibly high level on "Cluster", Joray's improvisations are a pleasure to follow, surprises included. Of course, Muthspiel's influence is noticeable in Joray's tone and understanding of sound: "Wolfgang is a great role model for me, but in the meantime I've detached myself from him and try to find my own voice." It will be exciting to hear where this further search will lead him.
HIFI Stars (DE), March 2020:
Three young jazz musicians, greatly inspired with a huge desire to make music. Nothing less than the universe itself was the orientation for the debut album of Swiss jazz guitarist Silvan Joray, who is permanently winning one prize after the other. With his extremely creative way of playing the jazz guitar, he causes a sensation. His soloistic skills are inspiring – effortlessly and so naturally, notes follow notes, which one almost wants to guess, but then are presented in a completely different way. The best example for this is the much meaningful fourth track "In High Heels On A Mountain Road". As funny as the title itself, are here quite a few humorous and exceedingly catchy passages. The song to the album is found on the fifth track: In "Cluster Song" the trio is highly concentrated experimenting – almost mystical instrumental music.
Review on Kultur-port.de, January 2020:
Joray performs with various formations and with his own trio - nothing unusual. Unusual and remarkable, however, is the album "cluster", which he recorded with his trio and is of such good quality that one is astounded. Such young musicians and such a good, masterful album? Respect.
The CD has some good combinations: good melodicism, a flow that holds the listener, some (self-)irony - or rather - here and there a slightly ironic approach to jazz. The great interaction between the band members and the sensitivity for rhythm and improvisation is breathtaking. It's as if the trio can make themselves and the listeners go off into a state of contemplative trance – with gorgeous guitar runs and a meaty sound. The narrative mood resembles the interplay of dramatic and calm flow of reading aloud, there is automatically a bilateral and mutual mood relationship between stage and audience space, between musicians and listeners.
And yet, the band is no stranger to individuality, again and again one of the instruments dominates - more soloistically than the others, without overpowering. The spaces are walked together, but the behavior within them varies.
"See You In June" is a wonderful introductory piece, which is followed by "Gyrotwister", and parallel to the game of the same name to improve coordination skills, the guitar runs spin as if of their own volition, driven by only minimal movement.
"Blutmond” is a core eclipse of the musical kind, calm, thoughtful and completely natural. "High Heels On A Mountain Road" begins with tripping moments of suspense, the plucking of the strings fragmenting the melody yet always returning to it. With "Cluster Song" the three musicians enter experimental realms, only to leave them again shortly thereafter and traverse the galaxies. How the time flies! "See You In Late September" is not only a short leap in time, but also equipped with the melancholy of autumn. The wind smells of melancholy. And then eventually, "Something Happy" happens, a little nervous at first, hinted at in its own melodic structure, a harmonic sound is found. How could it be otherwise: "Bass Space" belongs for almost one and a half minutes to the great string instrument all alone. A homage follows: "Wolfgang's Choral". Styrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel has unobtrusively recommended himself with this piece. "Space 7" and "Space 12" seemingly merge into each other, small excursions into supposedly unknown terrain, or yet completely without matter - floating? Pulled by the "solar wind" back to earthly spheres, crystalline, bell-like, light and floating to a place where you can look up again: "Looking Up" and the wonderful memories of a trip up there, envelops us in the end.
All thirteen pieces carry something cosmic in them, the titles alone reveal that. So, it's no wonder that the picture on the cover shows a collection of stars, gas clouds and planets, real brightly shining galaxy clusters – a picture by the Hubble telescope. Its content is brought very close by these three extraordinary musicians!
Link to the original: https://www.kultur-port.de/kolumne/jazz/16125-silvan-joray-trio-cluster.html
Jazzthing (DE), Februar 2020:
«Blood young is the Swiss guitarist Silvan Joray and yet, at just 23, he sounds very mature. No wonder his mentor Wolfgang Muthspiel is enthusiastic: "His solos sound effortless and casual and tell stories one wants to follow." Indeed. These stories entwine around the universe on the debut CD "Cluster," and Joray is accompanied by Nadav Erlich on bass and Josep Cordobés on drums. Together, the trio explores casual stumbling beats "In High Heels On A Mountain Road" or the good-humored "Something Happy." That Joray wrote all the material (four short improvisations are also included) himself is another indication of a great talent that has found its way into the public eye. The folkloric delicacy "Cluster Song" has a majestic vastness to it, and at times even reminds one of the great Leo Kottke.»
Concerto (AT), Februar 2020:
«Swiss jazz guitarist Silvan Joray does a lot right on his debut album. On "Cluster" he presents his acoustic trio for the first time, in which the young talents Nadav Erlich on double bass and drummer Josep Cordobés rhythmically support his compositions with great sensitivity. Joray's guitar tone reflects his compositional approach. Instead of grand gestures and dramatic explosions of sound, with which jazz is increasingly fabricated by today’s musicians, the guitarist focuses on the inner dynamics of the pieces and concentrates on the elegant communication between the instruments. Once he finds a voicing he likes, he sticks with it and sees how far he can vary and adjust texture and tone from that point. The result then sounds emotional and thoughtful at the same time. This balanced approach is also reflected in the accompaniment. Bass and drums respond emphatically to the dynamic arcs of the pieces and bring lightness to the music in a playful way. That in the end such an elegant album was formed may also have something to do with the fact that his mentor, the Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, was involved as producer. But mainly you have to take your hat off to Silvan Joray himself. Very successful!»
Akustik Gitarre (DE), Februar 2020:
Swiss jazz guitarist Silvan Joray, in his mid-twenties with a solid education in classical and jazz, presents a great trio album with “Cluster”. He was a student and protégé of
Wolfgang Muthspiel, who also participated in the production as an artistic
producer. In the line-up with archtop, double bass and drums, the three musicians create soundscapes that quite perfectly span from classical jazz to contemporary jazz and sometimes freely improvised pieces. Free does not mean free jazz - the trio never leaves the easily consumable listening area, but they thoroughly explore it strikingly musically and creatively. The interaction of the musicians is as remarkable as the individual playing ability and the imagination of the bandleader, who wrote nine of the 13 pieces – the remaining four are improvised. "Silvan Joray developed his own way of playing jazz," says Muthspiel. "His solos are very casual, they tell stories that one wants to follow."
One wants to follow not only the guitarist, but the entire trio’s body of sound. Joray plays
an archtop, which is also acoustically captured in this recording. This results in a great, open, and earthy-woody sound - distinctly different from many jazz players who tend to have a mellow and dull tone. There are still clips from 2014 on Joray's YouTube channel. He impressively developed his sound over the last six years. Joray and his trio deserve the largest possible and most attentive audience!
JAZZTHETIK, March 2020 (original below):
Silvan Joray - A cluster of stars
The Swiss guitarist Silvan Joray is 23 years young - and yet already award-winning. Encouraged by his producer Wolfgang Muthspiel, the guitarist now presents the debut album Cluster with his trio.
By Verena Düren
"The extraordinarily talented guitarist Silvan Joray has thoroughly absorbed the tradition and thus develops his own style of playing jazz. He never ceases to inspire me with his deep understanding of improvisation”, is Wolfgang Muthspiel's great compliment to the Swiss guitarist Silvan Joray. His love of the guitar started in the cradle – his mother is a guitar teacher and introduced him to music, but rather to classical guitar than to jazz guitar. "I first came into contact with jazz in high school. There I played in the school band, which also played jazz. Right from the start, I was taken by the freedom in music that I didn't know in classical music," says Joray. From then on, his path was clear, and he pursued it with determination: High School was followed by precollege studies at the Swiss Jazz School in Bern and finally a bachelor's at the Jazzcampus Basel, where he will also complete his master's degree this year (2020). After that, his big dream is New York: "The Swiss jazz scene is already great, and there's an incredible amount going on, but we have the basic problem that there are too few clubs to play in. I would like to live in New York for a while if possible, because there is simply the greatest jazz scene you can imagine. I've been there several times, too, but would love to live there for a longer period of time."
For the first half of the year, however, he will remain on the European scene, where he is not only a convincing sideman on numerous projects, but also has various projects of his own. Together with his brother, tenor saxophonist Patrick Joray, he plays in a duo as well as in a quintet. "My brother and I sort of started together at Jazzcampus and have been playing together on and off ever since. We like to play jazz standards, including pieces by John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery, mostly in a quintet, but also in duo from time to time." In addition to various ad hoc formations in which he plays sometimes, there is also the quartet Threeamisu Extended and of course his Silvan Joray Trio, with which he has now recorded his first record Cluster exclusively with original compositions.
"At the beginning of my studies, I mainly played jazz standards, but then, through Wolfgang Muthspiel, I also began to write my own music. He also encouraged me to make a debut album at this point in time, even though I wasn't sure for a long time whether the compositions were good enough. But I guess that's always the case, and at some point you have to jump in at the deep end, Joray says with a laugh. It was obvious to him that he wanted a classical trio lineup with guitar, double bass and drums for his debut. The Silvan Joray Trio has been around since 2016, but initially with changing lineups, until the three musicians finally found each other: "The drummer Josep Cordobes comes from Barcelona and has been with us since 2017. He has a very effortless and easy way, and it's very nice interacting with him. The bassist Nadav Erlich is from Israel, and we knew each other before through other projects where we played together. Then, when my bass player dropped out for an important gig in Basel, Nadav stepped in. And it was simply a really great gig, really fresh, and stayed that way ever since. He has extraordinary intonation and technique, also contributes melodically again and again, and listens extremely well," Joray raves about his trio colleagues.
Joray’s fascination with the universe runs like a golden thread through the thirteen tracks of the album, which is already shown in the title: "A cluster can be understood as a musical expression – chords that consist of several small intervals – but also as star cluster," explains the guitarist.
The trio pieces are repeatedly loosened up by collective improvisations, which was an idea of Muthspiel, who supported the trio as a producer in the studio. A frequent favorite of the audience has turned out to be the very pictorial "In High Heels on a Mountain Road”. The piece "Something Happy" is dedicated to his father, who always said he should write something happy. Joray himself still sees potential in the groove, which on Cluster is mainly contributed by Cordobés. That works wonderfully in my opinion, but a little self-criticism must probably be. In the spring, six CD release concerts in Switzerland and Germany are booked – the guitarist is currently not planning beyond the summer, because maybe then the motto will be "New York, New York".