“Miles and Monk in the Sky” is a collaboration between Ray Mc Cray, Gregory Dahl, Sam Pace, Cesar Hernandes and others. The piece is built around a storied baby grand piano donated to Ray by Joy Magruder. Joy’s husband John Magruder acquired the instrument in 1965 from the owner of a Jazz-bar off Central Avenue in Los Angeles in order to compose arrangements for big bands and smaller ensembles.

Mr. Magruder used the instrument to test voicings for band charts. Horace Silver, a childhood friend of John’s and many great musicians played it or in ensemble on many occasions.

It has been suggested that the 1930’s era piano came from the old Elks Club. Harp and action were pulled from the instrument and the black finish stripped off by Ray. The first of the keys was signed by Joy and the Magruder Monktet (a nine piece band that plays Thelonious Monk compositions arranged by John Magruder) in 2004. Over the next 5 years, Ray Mc Cray and Gregory Dahl one by one, took the remaining 85 keys to the Jazz Bakery on Helms Ave to be signed by jazz legends including Oscar Brown Jr., Ravi Coltrane, Linda Hopkins and Herbie Hancock, (There is a key waiting for artist Stevie Wonder to sign). Sam Pace and Mario Gutierrez and his brother Junior painted the lid with an image of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk and the sides with a serealist mural telling tales of Monk’s brilliant and troubled life. As if collaged in, are renderings of Billie Holiday and John Coltrane by Fade. Ray “splashed” the lid, and constructed a three-dimensional collage in the sound box and inside lid of the piece. Ray directed Bahgo 74 to paint the words “Miles and Monk in the Sky” and “7 steps to heaven Round Midnight” and finish the action off with gold leaf and a mirror.

Miles and Monk in the Sky

The Piano readied for a show in San Francisco. 2013

Piano colage

William Grant Stills Art Center, Los Angeles, 2008

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