Leaf Juice (Vectordisc) is Ray Ferretti’s follow up to his 2009 debut Nice View (Vectordisc). It’s a strong sophomore release for the Philadelphia-based fusion guitarist, as it showcases a natural progression in his writing, playing, and use of guitar tones. Ferretti largely goes it alone on the new disc - providing all of the guitar and bass, the drum programming, plus most of the keyboards - though he is joined sparingly by co-producer Ron Thomas on electric piano and synths (two tracks), pianist Jonas Aras (one track), and vocalist Kristi Lynn Kosh (one track).
Ferretti is a jazz rock fusion musician through and through. That is to say - no matter what other styles he brings to the table, he’s usually fusing them with jazz-flavored harmony, and rock guitar tones or rhythms. Funk is one such style that Ferretti utilizes quite effectively on Leaf Juice. “Henso,” “Chris Funker,” and the Oz Noy-like “Where’s My Car” all feature great funk grooves, mixed with jazzy lines and heavy tones. “Namaste Nepal” has Ferretti mixing in some “tropical” influences on a piece that sounds very much like something Frank Gambale might write. Kristi Lynn Kosh provides some nice vocal accents on this track as well. Other songs such as “The Crooked Straight” and “Dr. Pizza” lean in more rock-oriented directions, yet still include shades of jazz (the overlapping guitar lines leading up to Ferretti’s go-for-broke solo on “Dr. Pizza” is one of the best moments on the album).
Leaf Juice includes some nice ballads as well, such as “Dancing With The Angels,” and “Song For My Mother.” Both feature great writing and playing, though Ferretti relies solely on his clean tones for “Dancing With The Angels” for an airy, pared down mood, whereas “Song For My Mother” is more keyboard oriented and includes some high-gain guitar work.
Overall, the strongest song on Leaf Juice may be its title track which features great solos by both Ferretti and keyboardist Ron Thomas, cool chord changes, and a solid “west coast jazz” feel.
All of the percussion on the album is provided by Ferretti’s drum programming. While this usually suits the song fine (and is often impressive in its complexity), some pieces - such as the rhythmically busy “One Easy Step” - would benefit greatly from the touch and feel of a real drummer. Still, as was the case with Nice View, Leaf Juice is a fine showcase of Ferretti’s compositional and playing skills, and is quite an accomplishment considering the tools he had at hand.
Ray Ferretti - Leaf Juice (Vectordisc)
Ray Ferretti - Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Drum Programming
Ron Thomas - Electric Piano, Synths
Jonas Aras - Electric Piano
Kristi Lynn Kosh - Voice
1. The Crooked Straight
3. Namaste Nepal
4. Dancing With The Angels
5. Chris Funker
6. Leaf Juice
7. Eyzs Know
8. Ant Knee
9. Song For My Mother
11. Dr. Pizza
12. Where's My Car
13. One Easy Step
14. Bored Under Water