Organic Trio Liner Notes:
Playing the guitar for a living is a blessing that I never have taken for granted. Over the past 20 years I have had the opportunity to play with some GREAT musicians. Some of those musical conversations that occurred have stayed within me and bring a smile to my face every time I think about them.
One such occurrence happened on a Thursday night about five years ago (give or take) where I played a weekly gig in Baltimore. On this particular night I had Greg Hatza on organ & Mike Kuhl on drums. That night resulted in a musical experience of the highest order & I couldn’t wait to play with these two fine musicians again. Greg I had known for some time. He is originally from Reading, Pa & moved to Baltimore many years ago. I had just met Mike Kuhl and really liked his linear approach to drumming.
So when I had the opportunity to put a trio together for a gig on March 3, 2011, I knew I wanted Greg & Mike on it, to continue the beauty of that night five years ago!
This recording captures a nice mix of the type of things I LOVE in music; the Blues, Swing, Funk, Bebop, Melodies & Improvisation. It’s a snapshot of three musicians working together who LOVE what they do. For those of you who were not there on March 3rd, we bring a portion of that night to you.
Michael Raitzyk is a native Baltimorean who has been playing the guitar professionally for over 20 years. As a young adult, he was drawn to bands with a heavy emphasis on improvisation like the Allman Brothers, Jimi Hedrix Experience, Muddy Waters, Miles Davis and John Coltrane
For the past 20 years, Michael Raitzyk has been one of the top jazz guitarists in the Baltimore-Washington area. Acclaimed for his solid rhythm chops and improvisatory imagination, Raitzyk has played with everyone from Pepper Adams and Mel Torme to Clifford Jordan and Bill Hardman. Raitzyk's versatility has allowed him to play in a variety of settings--from solo recitals to bop combos to big-band dates. He is currently best known as the leader of the Michael Raitzyk Trio, performing weekly at Baltimore’s Café Hon since 2003. His recent CD release, “Live at Café Hon,” (2006) has been well received by the regional community and media, as was “Blues For Jake” (2001), and “Charm City Klezmer” (1999).
Raitzyk’s guitar style is based on a mix of blues, funk, R & B and jazz.
Although he is best known for his jazz work, Raitzyk has been welcome in many different musical environments and has founded ensembles in many different genres. In 1992, for example, his interest in big band music led to the formation of the 16-piece MRJO (Michael Raitzyk Jazz Orchestra). For four years, this tight ensemble played hot arrangements that included those of Thad Jones as well as MRJO’s own Mack Rucks, a protégé of tenor sax great Frank Foster. In the late 1990s, Raitzyk was introduced to klezmer music and founded the acclaimed Charm City Klezmer band. Raitzyk produced their CD “Charm City Klezmer,” voted “Best of 1999” by the Baltimore City Paper. The band has performed at the Kennedy Center, New York City’s Klezmer Brunch at Tonic, and was featured on Maryland Public Television’s arts showcase broadcast. Klezmer music has now become a part of Ratizyk’s guitar syntax.
His eclectic experience includes He has backed up Mary Ann Price, former vocalist with Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks and Asleep at the Wheel, when she led her own group, Sophisticated Swing. He played lead guitar on "Then Again," an album by singer-songwriter Anne Louise White. From 1990 to 1993 he was leader of Pachamama, a reggae-funk ensemble which played throughout Maryland. He is a frequent performer with ensembles such as the Baltimore Jazz Orchestra, the Greg Hatza Organization, and many others. He is also a sought-after guitar teacher, and teaches at Howard Community College in Maryland, Friends School of Baltimore, and DayJams music camp in the summers.
Raitzyk started playing at six years old when he inherited his father's unused guitar. He began with the usual folk tunes but when he was 11 years old he saw Pat Metheny with the Gary Burton Quartet at a concert in Baltimore and he was an instant convert to jazz. He listened to bands like Earth, Wind & Fire, Allman Brothers Band, the Police and the Pat Metheny Group. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School, the performing-arts magnet school in Portland, Oregon, where he studied music and resolved to become a professional musician. In 1981, Raitzyk moved to San Francisco and became a full-time musician. He studied Latin American music at La Penza Cultural Arts Center and sat in with many of the local Latin-jazz bands. Other local jam sessions included collaborations with a then-obscure Bobby McFerrin and members of the local hard-bop scene.
Raitzyk returned to Baltimore in 1982 where he joined the Creative Artists Music Ensemble, led by pianist Abdul Rasheed Yah-Ya, a protégé of McCoy Tyner. The John Coltrane connection was further strengthened when the young guitarist joined the Carl Grubbs Quartet. One of the biggest influences on Raitzyk, however, was Baltimore's thriving organ trio scene where the guitarist is required to reinforce the groove even as he fattens the sound of the small group. By playing with such organists as Thomas Hurley, Chico Johnson, David Ross and Greg Hatza, Raitzyk developed an unshakable sense of rhythm and a down-to-earth bluesy approach to improvisation.