The Ricca Project have returned with another Fresh Offering on 'The Melody Ave Sessions'

The Ricca Project is South Florida based jazz and funk amalgamating trio who just delivered their first Extended Play, 'The Melody Ave Sessions,' since their 2018 debut title, 'Jazz For Beer Drinkers.' The record manifests like a smooth jazzy silhouette, but with a deeper pocket and groove that can only be attributed to contemporary funk. It's like wandering into a bar you didn't know, in a city you've never been to, and discovering the sleekest band playing the night away amongst a bustling crowd in the backroom—playing all night long.

The three-piece come off bouncy and playful but well-defined, then organized and engaging melodically, only a few moments into the playback. With an electric guitar that translates cleanly over warm saturation, a well-rounded and crispy low end, organ keys, and the locked-in-the-pocket backbone from the drums, The Ricca Project—Elijah Taj Gee on keys, Tj Prystal with the drums, and Jesse Ricca over the guitar—has developed a fusion sound that penetrates through on each track; providing this record flowing character and musicianship.

"Miami Move" is probably the highlight and climax on this record. Using a tempo ideal for dancing your way into a bet you can't lose, the song grooves like funk. It welcomes shadows of jazz's past, while still occupying a more novel territory in the soup of fusion and all its accompanying prefixes. Jesse Ricca, the band's conductor of vibe, uses the silky mid-range of his guitar to take the lead in pumping up the trajectory of the music with an electrifying onset and spark. They turn on a dime from straight forward and groove to measures that might make you pause at the excitement it produces on "Dig That Shit." Breaking back and forth, the bass, drums, and keys give pockets for the guitar to play with. We end up face to face with a world-devouring keys solo morphs into an organ halfway through and hit us with a well-needed hit of dopamine—even synergizing with the bassline like it was a prophecy.

As the vibration and vibe intensify, The Ricca Project lays us back down to lean reverse on their comfy recliner in the sonic form of "Making My Way To The City." It's an instant favorite for anyone who regularly finds themselves shaking their hips to tunes while doing anything leisurely. It's easy to notice how breezy the music makes you feel, yet the band is tightly in information throughout the track, and even in totality when looking at this session as a whole. The Ricca Project comes barking, with a biting groove to back it up, issuing a notice to open up already and embrace the magnetism that is pulling you toward the Jazz-Fusion trend.

What was the experience of record 'The Melody Ave Sessions' like and was this a live off the floor session?

It was a great experience recording and shooting the videos for these tracks. We really just ran through tunes and picked out our favorite takes that showed more musical character. I'm happy because even though these were done in a studio they have such a live feel because we are playing together and you can hear the communication between Elijah, Tj, and I (Jesse).

What were your mindsets entering into 2020 with relation to your next intended milestones as a band?

Well, the plan before COVID was to really push playing out of town more and more. We were hoping to play all over the east coast and try to get into as many festivals as we could. That's still the plan once things are normal again. We are a small band so it's not too hard or expensive to travel. 

Where does The Melody Ave Session's deep-rooted groove come from when speaking about influences and inspirations artistically?

I (Jesse) write all the music beforehand and then bring it to the band. I let everyone interpret it how they want, leaving room for the band to really make it their own. Sometimes magic happens in rehearsal, and I have to change the arrangement from what I had written. That's what really makes the songs become a group effort and everyone a big part of the final product. My biggest influences are Soulive, John Scofield, Lettuce, Snarky Puppy, and a tone of straight-ahead Jazz, Be-Bop, and Swing. George Benson, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery.    

Have you guys broken the seal on new releases coming our way this year, and can we expect more of the same groove and fusion found all over Melody Ave on your next planned releases?

We do have a bunch more material written and ready, but I'm not sure when the next release will be. Hoping to do a second full studio album in 2021.

What has been keeping you inspired this year?

This year has been a rollercoaster of emotions and just plain scary a lot of the time. I'm just trying to use this downtime to work on my playing, writing, understanding of the music business, and myself.