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Ray Marchica: In the Ring

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Marchica exemplifies the well-rounded modern drummer. Over the years he has held steady gigs at Radio City Music Hall, on Broadway, on television and on tour with various theatrical and pop stars. His chops are impressive, but so is his taste in working toward a group (and groove) effort on this album. The group includes tenor saxophonist Teodross Avery, guitarist Rodney Jones and bassist Lonnie Plaxico.

A reharmonized “Billy’s Bounce” sets the uplifting rhythmic focus of the album. “Worm” and then a funky “Tequila” follows, introduced by a drum solo that recalls Louis Bellson and Buddy Rich. Next, four originals are heard and then a lovely “I Can’t Get Started” (the album’s only ballad) and a blazing “Summertime.”

Avery, who debuted on records as a leader a decade or so ago and has been heard from little since, sounds as if he has been listing to Eric Alexander in the interim. A fluid improviser with chops to spare, he’s the right tenorman for this strong, forthright group. Likewise, the supple groovemasters Jones and Plaxico fit perfectly with the leader’s intentions.