ZR Records

You’ve found the home of my records. Though I spend most of my time touring or recording with other artists these days, I have released several records under my own name, including “Shine Under the Darkness” released, this year. Check them out below:

 
 
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“Shine Under the Darkness”

Always searching for a connection to those Kansas City roots, it only took me 30 years in music to finally release a blues record. On my way home from Switzerland, right before Thanksgiving, I decided I wanted to make a little EP of the blues material I had been working on. Three weeks later, I sent it off to mastering. It was the quickest project I’ve ever taken on and I loved every second of the process.

I worked with the ever impressive Clay Blair at Boulevard Recorders in Hollywood. It’s an old studio, full of warmth and charm - and it’s where we made the Tripp Rezac record, of which I am so proud. Clay gets amazing sounds and was able to roll with the break-neck pace of the project with ease and grace.

I’m not regularly playing my own material live, so I had the pleasure of assembling a stellar cast of musicians to fill out the sounds I was hearing in my head or on demos. It was a blessing and my true honor to have John JT Thomas on Piano & Organ, Kurtis Keber & Eliot Lorango on bass, and Herman Matthews and Matt Musty on drums. JT and I had two stellar rhythm sections to jam with. Amen!

My most heartfelt thanks goes out to all these folks for helping to make such a great little record, if I do say so myself!

 
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“Wild, Wild Love”

"Wild, Wild Love" was conceived of, written and recorded from 12/25/2010 - 5/5/2011. On that Christmas evening, nursing a broken heart, I wrote down 16 song titles. I then drunkenly pinky-sweared with myself that I would make a whole record at home, and that I would write and record at least 14 of my song titles. Since it felt backwards to give myself titles to write-to, I decided to give myself a second backward assignment and spent two weeks writing one song’s worth of lyrics each day, having no idea what the song would eventually sound like. By hook or by crook - and with some late, Scotch-fueled nights - I had 14 sets of lyrics ready for songs to be created at the end of my two-week window.

I then set-up my house as a full recording studio, with drums, piano, bass and guitar - all reachable from within my recording desk. The goal was to use all real instruments, so that meant no drum machines or computer help to build up the tracks. I decided I would write the songs in the order I had written each lyric, so on day 15 I wrote “Wild, Wild Love” and recorded it - playing all of the instruments myself. Day 16, I wrote and recorded a song to go with the next set of lyrics, and on and on.

Once all of the songs were recorded, I mixed (and mixed and mixed) it at home, over the next few obsessive weeks. The result is a gritty, bluesy rock & roll opus with some uncoded and pointed moments of catharsis and cacophony. It had been a life goal to make one of “those” records where the guy holes up in his house, sustained by vices and drunk on the muse. 14 songs about beat the life out of me, but it was one of the best experiences of my career.

Only one problem, “Wild, Wild Love” was never officially released. However, hopefully in late 2019, it will see a digital release on Electric Wisdom Records. 

 
 
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“Take Me”

This record will always hold a special place in my heart as it was the zenith of the collaborations between myself and producer, bassist Jon Evans. Recorded at his East Bay Studio, this record features a slew of studio heavyweights, including Matt Chamberlain, Mike Aaberg and the Brass Mafia Horns. The vision for this record was “modern-vintage” soul music. Jon and I worked to create a spectral, soundscape-y feeling to the songs, striving towards a modern interpretation of classic sounds, rather than a sound-alike.

This record was released on a small label and saw some distribution around the world. The lead single “Twenty Month Summer” saw nationwide radio play throughout the release cycle. Unfortunately, the label ran into trouble and promotion on successive singles fell off.

Though a full tour for “Take Me” was always just on the horizon, we spent most of the time promoting this record on festival bills, or as an opening act for artists, such as Chaka Khan, Aimee Mann, Blues Traveler and Leo Nocentelli of the Meters, to name a handful.

 
 
 
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“For the Love I’m Forgetting”

When we started making “…Forgetting,” I told producer / engineer Matt Boudreau that my ideal was a mono release on 78rpm vinyl; recorded by an eleven-piece ensemble, in one room, with one mic - “like Frank Sinatra at Capitol.” And since that wasn’t at all possible, we made the next best thing.

“…Forgetting” features a hand-picked group of San Francisco musicians, bolstered by a full-throated horn section and half of a doo-wop group I literally met on the street. I spent a lot of time on this record, carefully writing all of the arrangements and showing up at the sessions with stacks of music.

The single “No Worries” will probably be my Freebird. Whenever I play a Zachary Ross show to a hometown crowd, it’s usually called out and requested from the crowd, long before its place in the setlist. Ironically, the song was written while singing my newborn son to sleep, after the events on 9/11.