Cincinnati guitarist Bob Ross and his Quartet will play Dick’s Den on Thursday, April 30th at 10pm. A Southern Ohio native, Ross earned his Masters degree in Jazz Studies from The University Of The Arts in Philadelphia in 2010. Since then, he released his debut album, 2013’s Arriving, and has been active in multiple bands in the Cincinnati area, including collaborating with fellow Morehead State alum Brandon Coleman. Ross has a new quartet album in the works entitled The Third Day, so be on the lookout for that. I caught up with Ross on the telephone last week to discuss his upcoming show and current projects:
What can you tell us about your album Arriving?
Bob Ross (BR): Arriving had a different lineup than the current project – it featured a lot of guitar and vibraphone. For the most part, the songs on the album were written when I was doing my masters at U of Arts in Philly. I brought those back [to Cincinnati] and got together again with a vibraphonist in the area [Mark McCafferty] – we both went to undergrad together at Morehead State University. After going off to grad school and coming back, we got together again and started playing a good bit and I decided I wanted to make an album with him.
Since your lineup has shifted since Arriving, what is your current band lineup?
BR: For Dick’s Den, it will be myself on guitar, tenor saxophonist Dan Barger, Matt McCoy on the bass, and Dean Marotta on drums. With this band, it’s like I’m creating the sound that I would want to be on The Third Day. Because of people’s schedules, the lineup sometimes shifts a little bit. But the idea for The Third Day was that saxophonist JD Allen would be coming in on it. JD and I have played together, and we’ll be playing together again in the coming months. I wanted to bring in that guitar/sax sound. That’s what will be happening at Dick’s Den – we’ll be performing tunes that will be featured on the new album. While the lineup may shift a bit for recording, it will still be guitar/saxophone based.
What’s on your playlist right now?
BR: I listen to John Stowell a lot. He’s a West Coast guitarist. He and I have been speaking lately, just trying to get an idea where he’s coming from compositionally. He’s sent me some of his charts so I can take a look. I’ve sent out some recordings for feedback – he seemed to dig it pretty well, and said he would like to play together if he’s ever in the area, which was a huge compliment to me.
Besides Stowell, I would have to say Jesse Van Ruller and Martijn van Iterson – these are European guys. Jonathan Kreisberg, I continually go back to him. Recently, on and off I’ve gotten back into Mike Stern again. And then of course there’s the saxophone guys – I’m a big fan of Jerry Bergonzi. I listen to Seamus Blake and JD [Allen]. I still listen to older style jazz, but I really dig the more contemporary guys.
Do you hope to tour when The Third Day comes out? Any future plans on the horizon?
BR: Because of changes at home [Ross and his wife just had a baby and bought a new house], we won’t be venturing too far away. But definitely Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton – possibly looking toward Indiana and just trying to push that out more and more. Besides pushing that particular sound, I really have an interest in pursuing a solo guitar album, where it’s just solo guitar. Not necessarily standards – in my practice, a lot of times I’ll do impromptu pieces on the spot. I get an idea and work with it and try to really create something. So maybe something impromptu – “Let’s hit the record button, record it, and there it is.” Something that wouldn’t necessarily be continually performed in the same way, like a set piece, but something in the moment.
Did you have a good time playing Columbus in your first appearance (Dick’s Den, August 2014)?
BR: Definitely. Because I’m not a known name outside of Cincinnati, I didn’t know what to expect. But once we got going, people started coming in. The reaction to what we were doing, which is actually about the same as this show (guitar and sax with Dan Barger) – the response to that, I was impressed with how they were accepting my charts. I really enjoyed it.
Anything else to add for our readers that might be thinking about coming out to the show?
BR: I just hope they can come out and support kind-of-local jazz and original music.
Check out bobrossguitar.com for more info on Ross. Here’s a live recording from his first appearance at Dick’s: