Meet the Band: The Ryan Marquez Trio

Welcome to the #TPfamily: The Ryan Marquez Trio! We recently spoke with Ryan Marquez himself to learn more about the trio and their music.
Tell us a little about the trio!
The trio consists of Steve Davis (drums), Ben Wheeler (bass) and myself (piano). We have been playing together through the years in various formats as active members of the jazz scene. Steve and I released two records together last year behind vocalist Feyza Eren and supporting Steve’s trio record “This is That”.  Ben and I played together through the years at jam sessions or with Willie Akins on occasion and recently had the chance to connect supporting Lamar Harris’ Parliament Funkadelic jazz tribute show/recordings.

I’m really fortunate to be supported by these guys as they are both ridiculously skilled, highly accomplished and great hangs.  

Steve is a long time record producer who spent time in New York playing drums with jazz giants Dave Liebman, Bill Evans, Richie Beirach, John Pattitucci and Benny Golsen. He has over 165 recordings to his credit, including 8 of his own. Steve served on the faculty of Jamey Aebersold Jazz Clinics from 1982-2008.

Ben has been a longtime staple on the STL jazz scene backing the legendary saxophonists Willie Akins and Dave Stone, along with performing with piano virtuoso Ptah Williams. He also has experience on the road supporting jazz guitarist Corey Christiansen (featuring drummer Danny Gottlieb) and the rock band "Perry Went Home.

How did you guys come together?
Steve and I began playing regularly with Joe Mancuso in his organ trio and quartet about 2 years ago. We became good friends upon jamming and recording at Steve’s studio twice a week for about 8 months. I was inspired to write a handful of tunes and the internal push from within, mixed with the request of others prompted me to put together the group. Steve had been jamming with Ben regularly through some projects they were working on and suggested we jam with him. Upon playing together we had instant chemistry and decided to do recordings together.

What drew you to the idea of a piano trio?
I have always had a great appreciation for jazz piano and really admired the great piano trios of Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, Bill Evans and of course Oscar Peterson. After many years of playing as a sideman on other jazz gigs I decided in 2016 that I wanted to lead a group of my own. It's really fun to utilize this format to articulate and curate my own sound paying tribute to familiar standards, crafting new ideas through originals and revamping some of my fav pop tunes. It really allows me a lot of flexibility vs. other projects I play in where I might be holding down the bass or functioning more in a supportive role. In the trio, I can really stretch out to express my ideas.

How would you describe your sound?

The Ryan Marquez trio takes a different angle to jazz and piano tunes by blending the vintage concepts of jazz and original compositions, as well as a little pop.

How do you describe this to someone who’s never heard your music before?

Our sound is easy to listen to. It’s dynamic and emotional. It’s three individuals with ideas to express coming together for an engaging conversation. We play music that challenges our creative boundaries and love finding familiar songs to reharmonize in our own style.  

What influences your music the most?

I think my music is influenced most by the everyday movie of life. The music is a product of the culture, times and emotions of the present day. I feel like through this trio I’m able to capture the soundtrack to moments in life where words reach their limits. Musically I love the blues flavor found in soul-jazz and draw on inspiration from some of my favorite pianists like Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Ramsey Lewis and Ahmad Jahmal. I really like to allow space in a composition so there is space to converse between each other. Melody is another driving factor to the songs I compose. I strive to write catchy tunes and provide the listener a front seat through the changes embracing it’s familiarity.  

Do you have any words to live by or life motto for the band?
Be Authentic. Align actions with intentions. Practice patience and have faith that the process is a far greater reward than the product.

Who would be your dream collaboration?
I would love to play with Esperanza Spalding and Brian Blade.

If you had to describe the band in one word it would be….

Your studio album entitled “Moving Forward in Time” is due out in 2018. Can you tell us a little but about the album?
The album was written in the earlier part of 2017 at a time when the emotions of the population were tense. I had a surge of creativity that felt concurrent with the events that were going on. The album channels emotions of “Serenity”, “Patience”, “Peace March” and “Moving Forward” in the face of adversity”. There is also a tribute “Apparition” to my good friend/mentor Willie Akins who passed in ‘15. I wrote my melody/version of a Horace Silver tune Willie used to play all the time called “Pretty Eyes.”  The album features traditional and modern sounds. “In Time” is a 24 bar swinging head chart that grooves like an old Charlie Parker tune while other tunes like “Serenity” and “Patience” have more of a contemporary jazz feel to them.

This is my first release under my own name and I am very excited to be featuring my original compositions with Steve and Ben.

What’s next for the trio?

Upon finishing the album we plan to have a CD release and put together a series of debut’s in surrounding markets. The group is also working on music videos currently in production for support of the album.

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