A trombone solo album is not exactly an everyday commodity, because the instrument is considered somewhat bulky, unwieldy and grumpy. In the hand of a master like Ray Anderson, however, one wonders how these prejudices could have come about, because he simply makes music with the trombone.
"I've had this idea in my head since I started playing solo concerts in 1982," Ray Anderson recalled. "Anthony Braxton recorded the solo record 'For Alto' in 1969, where the challenge of playing an instrument alone without accompaniment is particularly interesting. So why not on the trombone too? Albert Mangelsdorff has recorded beautiful solo albums, and that by George Lewis is also very inspiring."
"Marching On" begins with "Keep Your Heart Right" by his co-musician Roswell Rudd. "Roswell was a huge inspiration for everyone and, of course, especially for me," Anderson said. "And I love this melody. I first heard Roswell in 1966 on the Archie Shepp record 'Live in Francisco', and they even played this song there for a short time. Since Roswell died a few years ago, I thought it would be a nice idea to start the album with this song which by the way also has very nice lyrics."
Anderson dedicated the title song of the album to politician and activist John Lewis. "John Lewis was a great, inspiring figure in the civil rights movement and a close confidant of Martin Luther King," the trombonist recounted. "I met him once and was even able to play something for him; which is how this composition came about. I learned from him how to be human. He served in Congress for forty years and always stood up for equality and justice."
A rarely played song by Duke Ellington is "Just Squeeze Me". "I learned the song from Art Baron, who played with Duke Ellington himself, but also for people like Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen. He is a great trombonist with whom I have often played in a duo. 'Just Squeeze Me' is a conversation between two people, and I wanted to make that clear in my version."