In The Ring – Ray Marchica
Label: Sons of Sound
Drummer Ray Marchica had a simple goal for the pianoless quartet date In the Ring. Marchica simply wanted to go in the studio as a leader and record some of his favorite songs (both standards and originals) with a few of his favorite players. The results range from straight-ahead to mildly funky. Tenor saxophonist Teodross Avery emerges as the most impressive soloist, but guitarist Rodney Jones and bassist Lonnie Plaxico make strong contributions too. While Marchica takes a fair amount of solo space, he does not dominate the music. Among the many highlights are “Billie’s Bounce,” the up-tempo blues “9H5,” Rodney Jones’ hard bop original “Minor Mishap,” and a surprisingly fast version of “Summertime.” Marchica more than achieves his goal, putting together a well-paced and highly enjoyable set of first-class jazz. ~ Scott Yanow
Ray Marchica: In The Ring
To me, music is about love, both the love of physically playing and the feeling of love you give and receive while playing. It’s about reaching deep inside yourself, finding God and the creativity that drives you, and inspiring both the performer and listener to a higher place.
This record came about because I wanted to go into the studio and perform music that I love to play, with musicians that I love to play with. I didn’t want to go in as a sideman; I wanted to be the leader. I chose a variety of tunes, some standards, some originals, some with a funk feel, some with a straight-ahead feel. We played in the studio as if we were playing a live gig – these are complete takes.
Billy’s Bounce: The arrangement is by Rodney. We start out with offbeat accents using Rodney’s reharmonization, while Teodross plays the melody straight down the middle. The blowing starts out with a ridiculous solo by Teodross. This was the first song we recorded.
Tequila: The solo “worm” up front was played with jingle sticks that I heard Louis Bellson use when I was a kid. I always wanted to use them during a solo. I wanted to include a Latin/funk tune on the record, and we originally came up with a groove that went back and forth between the two, but in the studio the funky part just grooved more. Lonnie’s 16th-note pattern on the upright bass just kills me. So this is where we put it and had fun just opening it up.
9H5: This is the number of the dressing room I was in when I wrote this tune. It’s a fast blues. Rodney spiced it up with his arrangement. We just started playing, and this is what it was all about.
Journey’s End: I love the way the harmonies move, I love the way the groove is set up in such a laid-back, straight-eight feel on the bass and guitar. The slow-moving melody in three and the vamp in four have such a feeling of openness, it’s always peaceful to perform this piece. Soloing gave me a chance to stretch out in a way that compliments the feeling of the tune.
The Joneses: Two guys named Jones inspired this tune: Rodney and Elvin. Rodney suggested I write some original music for the album and gave me the extra push I needed. Thank you Rodney for all of your ideas, help, and inspiration. When I started to write, I couldn’t help but come up with a feel that I’ve heard Elvin play so often. The drum solo in the beginning is the only thing I overdubbed on the record; it’s me playing a duet with myself. One layer sets up a vamp that is built off the bass line of the tune itself, the other track is me improvising over it.
Minor Mishap: This is one of my favorites of Rodney’s arrangements. Even though it’s in a minor key, the melody is totally uplifting. It’s one of those tunes that can be played with a variety of feels and still swing. We’ve even done it as a half-time funk groove, but for this recording we kept it as a medium swing.
Summertime: I used to listen to Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery and loved the way they just swung so hard and had so much fun. When Rodney started playing the guitar vamp in the studio, it reminded me of those great sessions. I really wanted to record it – here it is.
Thanks to the great musicians and friends for being on this record. To Jeff Penney and Sons of Sound for all of his support. To my parents for giving me the absolute freedom to play music. To my Uncle Jimmy for the drum lessons. To my wonderful, supportive wife and partner, Nina, and my two kids, Paolo and Madeleine for the love and happiness they bring me. To my two other most influential teachers, Morris Lang, and the late Pete Costa. To Jim McGathey, John DeChristopher, and everyone at the Zildjian Cylmbal company. To Marco Soccoli, Vic Firth, and everyone at Vic Firth Sticks, Derek Wolffard, and Mike Farris at Pearl drums. To Matt Conners, Bob Yerby and everyone at Remo. To all my heroes: Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Steve Gadd, Elvin Jones, Mel Lewis, Roy Haynes, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Philly Joe Jones, Peter Erskine, Billy Higgins, Joe Morello, Max Roach, Art Blakey, and the many other great drummers for all the inspiration.
— Ray Marchica, February 2005
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