New York City drummer Ray Marchica debuts nine rounds of jazz and funk with three heavyweight instrumentalists in his corner. Like the “sweet science” itself, these veterans dance, bob, and weave their improvisations across a canvas of deep groove. The listener gets knocked out every time.
The product of a six-year association with Rodney Jones on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, this recording showcases the diverse styles and rock-solid feel that comes from years of collective experience behind artists from James Brown and Little Richard to Bernadette Peters and Johnny Winter. From Uptown to Downtown all the way along Broadway, Ray Marchica is the unsung but undisputed heavyweight champion of New York City.
01 Billy’s Bounce (5:46)
02 “Worm” drum solo (1:13)
03 Tequila (5:41)
04 9H5 (6:18)
05 Journey’s End (7:30)
06 The Joneses (7:15)
07 Minor Mishap (5:11)
08 I Can’t Get Started (5:28)
09 Summertime (5:57)
Rodney JONES, guitar
Lonnie PLAXICO, bass
Theodross AVERY, saxophones
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.
I Can't Get Started: At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to do a ballad on this record, but I'm sure glad I changed my mind. Playing a beautiful song slowly and quietly is magical. I think we hit a special feeling here. We all closed our eyes and just listened and played.
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
"The funky yet elegant new release from this drummer/bandleader is right on the mark. In the Ring is a bright fresh sound of jazz that doesn’t come down the pike too often… Just when you think this incredible art form cannot get any better, here comes Ray Marchica."
— All About Jazz New York, November 2005
"Marchica shows strength and vitality in his playing, yet he is totally into time."
— Cadence, November 2005
three stars"…the music here draws on the occasional gracefulness and tactical choreography of "the sweet science"… The group has great rapport, with evidently little inclination for anyone to show off. It's not "drummer's music,"…formidable players…"
— Indianapolis Star, September 2005
[three and one-half stars] "Esteemed as one of New York's most versatile drummers… Ray's welcome leader debut showcases his formidable jazz chops. …delivers crisp, popping drive and artful dynamics. Be it stright-ahead or funky, his eneergy, accuracy, and supporting interplay give soloists the guel they crave."
— Modern Drummer, October 2005
[three stars] "…this project allows [Marchica] to focus on his own favourite groove, a surging, funky jazz that is entirely familiar in terms of idioms, but is delivered with passion and commitment. A strong, solid session from some hardcore pros playing music — new and old — that they love."
— Jazzwise (UK), August 2005
"…this energetic mainstream date shows Marchica is more than just a capable session player… Despite their relative youth, these players are remarkably seasoned in a variety of styles, and it shows on In the Ring… it’s clear that everyone is going for broke… Marchica and the quartet manage to give In the Ring the true spirit of what jazz should be about—open ears, open minds, and, despite its placement in a mainstream context, a distinct element of risk."
— All About Jazz, August 2005
"Good going certainly… soul from Teodross Avery, whose tenor saxophone lingers and breathes emotion into every note. The mood is enhanced by Marchica's empathic brush work and gently shimmering cymbals.… pumped up, the adrenalin surging… hard-edged and intense…, with several enjoyable moments."
— All About Jazz, June 2005
"…high energy & diverse talent… there's plenty of styles evident… stone-funky, jubilant jazz & fantastic fusion. This is one of the "hippest" jazz CD's we've reviewed yet this year, & gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating.… rush right on out & GRAB this one, 'specially if you're an aspiring jazz drummer. I like it a lot, & it will stay in the "KEEPER" stack!"
— Improvijazzation Nation, June 2005
"…we're all the better for it. …a rock solid jazz/rare groove album. …drumming is right in front, and performances by Avery, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and guitarist Rodney Jones are pretty much flawless for the material. Here's some good-time BBQ jazz with some real depth, swing and innovativeness to it. And yeah, if need be, you can safely drop it on a Sunday."
— Boston's Weekly Dig, June 2005