Wray Downes has indeed earned the title of Grand Man of the piano. His career has spanned one-half of a century and his accomplishments & awards are certainly too numerous to recite. His superb playing has created many unique opportunities and led to breakthrough events, including becoming the first Canadian to win the Trinity College of Music Award (London, England). Wray's jazz roots are grounded in European studies with other burgeoning jazzmen like Sidney Bichet, Bill Coleman, Dizzie Gillespie and Sacha Distel. A busy and impressive career was to follow, challenging his multifaceted talents such as composer, arranger, conductor and performer.
Throughout the fifties & sixties Wray balanced live performances with such respected musical peers as Sonny Stitt, Clark Terry, Lester Young, with his many responsibilities to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The seventies & eighties saw Wray Downes performing, recording and touring in the United States and Canada including the prestigious Montreal jazz festival, gigs in Los Angeles performing on numerous NBC shows and more intimate club dates, all greatly contributed to the experience and musical sensitivity of this artist. Wray also played an important role in the recording of the Juno Award nominated recording "Bone's Blues" with Pete Magadini, Dave Young and Don Menza, now a Canadian classic.
His love of all things jazz also led to experiences as musical director with the Archie-Alleyne-Frank Wright Quartet, with vocalist Joe Williams, as assistant Musical Director with The Peter Appleyard Quartet and even to a stint as jazz announcer on Toronto's CKLN radio. Canada's love and appreciation of Wray Downes' enormous talent is apparent in a series of command performances for such distinguished guests as Nelson Mandela, the President of Finland and the then Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney. In the nineties, these events have been combined with a faculty position at Concordia University's department off Music private studies program, several jazz festivals and steady appearances at both Montreal and Toronto's major jazz venues.