Doug Webb and I had been working fairly regularly with quartets using different pianists at different times but usually with the same bassist. While working a quartet was very satisfying, we noticed—when the pianist would lay-out during the saxophone solo—that, not having the harmonic restrictions imposed by the chords being played, we would take the music to different places. The harmonies of the chords and the form of the music were always there…sometimes stated definitively, sometimes implied….but always there.
We had talked about doing some gigs as just a saxophone-bass-drums trio [we had actually done a duo gig together years ago] and when the pianist we had been using most regularly for the quartet moved away, we thought it might be time to do just that. Our regular bassist at the time was also on board for it so we started not only searching for venues where we could book such a trio, but discussing how we could get a budget to go into a studio and record what we did. We already had an extensive repertoire and knew that if we simply recorded what we usually play in clubs and concerts that we could come out with enough material to submit to a record label for release on CD.
Because of the less traditional musical format, venues that will hire a saxophone trio are not as extensive as for booking a band that has a chord instrument included. But, as a side benefit, by changing the format from quartet to trio also made it more economically feasible to obtain bookings on the road, where many venues were less jaded and more open to diverse bands and music to play their smaller towns.
When I contacted Vivian Lee and Scarlett Productions in Sacramento, she offered me the venue Savanna's Lounge where there was a regular presentation of Sunday afternoon jazz. I then contacted Eric Gale of SwirlSound Recording to do the location recording and everything was set. We would do an afternoon concert and live recording at Savanna's.
I should have known everything was too easy. About two weeks before the date we had set, our bassist was taken sick and informed us he couldn't make the trip. Doug and I discussed our options and agreed that we needed to honor our commitment and at least do the afternoon performance. We then set out to find a replacement bassist who we felt would want to do the gig with us. I had been working quite a bit with Joe Dolister, a bassist from the Reno-Tahoe area who had impressed me with his playing, and told Doug about him. Doug said to go ahead and hire him for the gig and that, as long as we had contracted the engineer, we might as well go ahead with the recording. We thought we could at least get a good demo out of it for getting future bookings.
Doug came to Sacramento from Los Angeles and Joe came in from Truckee early that Sunday afternoon of the recording and we did a quick rehearsal at the time we did the sound check for Eric to set the recording levels. We had many original compositions but rather than put the pressure on Joe of having to learn all new music, perform it and have it recorded, we stuck mostly with our arrangements of jazz standards and the music that used original melodies which were based on the chord changes of jazz standards. We picked the tunes that many musicians play throughout their careers, simplifying the rehearsal process. An hour later, we were on the bandstand playing and recording two 1-hour sets of music.
When we heard the playback of the recording we were more than happy with the outcome. What we thought would be a demo of sorts turned out to have a quality high enough to be released on CD.
I really want to thank my partner and good friend Doug Webb for his friendship and wonderful playing, Bob Rusch for all the opportunities he has presented for giving our music and performances international exposure, Joe Dolister for coming in and doing such a great job under pressure, Vivian Lee for providing the venue that gave us this recording opportunity, and Eric Gale for his wonderful engineering.
I hope the recordings Doug and I have done are only the beginnings of many more projects…for which we have many more ideas.
Quotes on Mat Marucci:
"....an unpretentiously efficient drummer......." - Leonard Feather / L.A. Times
"....a vital and driving force, a compelling and empathetic accompanist." - Frankie Nemko / Downbeat Magazine
".....technically fearsome......" - Owen Cordle / Jazz Times
".....veteran percussionist deserving of wider recognition." - Ken Dryden / All Music Guide
"Mat's playin' his a** off." - jazz organist Jimmy Smith
"Yes, he can play! His time feel is smooth and floating." - T. Bruce Wittet / Drums, Etc.
"...popular and prolific sideman"........"well earned rep on the California coast." - Derek Taylor / Cadence Magazine
"Marucci is a sure propellant to any soloist"......"keenly aware..." - Clifford Allen / All About Jazz
".....quite simply a musician's musician"..."clear, definitive personality as a leader"....."personally distinctive drum sound....." - Marcus Crowder / Sacramento Bee
"A ride to deeper dimensions....." - Jackson Griffith / Sacramento News & Review
"The real deal...." - Eric Cohen / WAER-FM (Syracuse, NY)
"Marucci thunders with a percussive sparkle that twists and turns with surprises at every corner." - Jim Santella, Cadence Magazine
"Sounds are great!" - Miff Mole, KSDS-FM
"I saw Mat play with Jimmy Smith and sat thinking, 'that is what it sounds like to play perfectly for the music.'"..."soloing techniques are not only musical, but original and fascinating for the eyes and ears"..."true master of the drums." - Johnny Rabb
"On fire!"........Bud Spangler, KCSM-FM/Independent Record Producer