CDNow Review of We Got It!

“Pianist/composer Matt Ray, who’s been heard accompanying formidable saxophonist Mike Lee, makes an auspicious debut as a leader with We Got It! a savvy, swinging set of originals and standards. Ray is backed by bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Gregory Hutchinson on most tracks, with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and tenor saxophonist John Ellis joining in on several others. In a trio setting, Ray glowingly explores the heartbreaking changes of the Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn melody ‘The Star-Crossed Lovers,’ and intrepidly traces the bop-era Miles Davis theme ‘Sippin’ At Bells,’ his solo a restless pastiche of well-wrought phrases. Trio version of Ray’s own compositions include the playfully surging, delightfully sonorous ‘Not Long Now,’ and the funky soul-jazz of ‘We Got It!,’ which — with the prominent bass work of Whitaker — recalls the perfect, compact grooves of Ray Brown (whom Hutchinson has often accompanied). Augmented by the horns, Ray leads the quintet through the elegantly-sculpted, teasingly funky melody of ‘Fish Night,’ as well as the smoothly propulsive, sweetly ascendant ‘Vista.’ A pianist still in his 20s, Matt Ray has made abundantly clear on this premier recording that whatever ‘it’ is, it’s something he’s Got.” — Drew Wheeler, CDNOW Senior Editor, Jazz

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Jul 28
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