While deeply rooted in the Jazz tradition, Ridley eschews the traditional head/solos/head approach to composition, preferring instead to create a unique sound-world from each initial glint of inspiration. At the heart of each composition is a strong, memorable melodic theme, the realisation of which draws on any number of influences to bring fullest expression. Classical, groove based styles and 'world' music can all be distinguished, while the ferocious improvisational skills of each member make for an absorbing and entertaining listening experience.
The 2013 debut trio release 'Thymos' garnered extensive praise from critics and audiences alike; A substantial statement of compositional and improvisational chutzpah, the music draws on the many influences of Ridley's extensive performing career. The album features numerous guests, notably saxophonist Jason Yarde, and a distinct Middle-Eastern flavour from oud maestro Attab Haddad and percussionist Vasilis Sirikis.
For the launch tour of 'Thymos', Jason Yarde joined the trio thenceforth, a collaboration which generated a whole new batch of compositions and culminated in their second studio album entitled 'Mettā'.
Released in 2016 to 4* reviews, 'Mettā' sets the bar yet higher across the board. Featuring a more mature and soulful compositional outlook, the emotional impact is both wider and deeper than one would expect from a jazz album. The musical landscape is one of focused rhythmic, harmonic and improvisational invention which can both challenge and delight, with the restrained minimalism of the opening 'Music to Drive Home To', giving way to the pulsating, burning improvisations of 'Mental Cases'....and much more besides.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Arts Council of England, the quartet spent a good deal of time in early '16 writing and rehearsing new compositions, pushing the boundaries of their creativity further still. Their live set comprises favourites from both studio albums, alongside new repertoire which has not yet been recorded.
'One of Britain's very finest contemporary quartets...the Matt Ridley Quartet is highly creative and exciting, working in a genre somewhere between free form and advanced lyricism and containing four talented musicians who have developed an almost telepathic musical understanding.'Jazz Views November 2015
Matt Ridley graduated from Trinity College of Music in 2005, and has since established himself as one of the most versatile, creative and hard-working bass players on the UK jazz scene. Notable credits include the 'MJQ Celebration', Darius Brubeck Quartet, Michael Garrick's big band/quartet/lyric ensemble, the Ant Law Trio/quintet. He has performed internationally and at London’s most prestigious venues such as the Purcell Room, Cadogan Hall, Ronnie Scott’s, Dean Street Pizza Express Jazz Club, King’s Place, the Barbican main stage, and the O2 Arena.
Jason Yarde started out with the Jazz Warriors as a teenager and went on to MD this landmark orchestra, becoming one of its principal writers. Jason was the leader of the award-winning group J-Life, has been twice-nominated for a BBC Jazz award for Innovation.
He has performed with the big bands of McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, Hermeto Pascoal, Sam Rivers and Manu Dibango, arranging and directing the latter for the Barbican Centre.
As a record producer, he has worked extensively for Dune Records, completed Gwilym Simcock’s debut CD on Basho and most recently Empirical’s 2010 MOBO winning, ‘Out ‘n’ In’
In 2009, he won the inaugural BASCA award for ‘Contemporary Jazz Composition’. He also received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Arts Award in 2010.
John Turville is a versatile, mutli-award winning pianist, a ‘major new figure on the British jazz scene’ (Ian Mann). He has recorded two acclaimed CDs under his own name, founded, writes for and directs the E17 large ensemble, and has been commissioned to write works for the Solstice Quartet, Living Room and Transtango. As a freelance pianist he has toured the UK and Europe with Tim Garland, Gilad Atzmon, the London Tango Orchestra, Transtango, Frank Griffith and Natacha Atlas.
Born into a musical family, George Hart started playing the drums and performing at an early age. He was introduced to jazz by his father, performer and composer, Paul Hart with whom he did many of his first gigs. After attending local jazz workshops, visiting jazz Summer schools and honing his sight reading with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, he applied for the undergraduate jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music. He studied here from 1998-2002, graduating with first class honours. Since then George has been freelancing in London where he has performed at venues such as Ronnie Scott's, Pizza Express, 606, Jazz Cafe and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. You can hear him on records by Phil Donkin, Ivo Neame, Brigitte Beraha and Seb Pipe. In spite of all this talk of ‘Jazz’, George is interested in a wide variety of music. He has been involved in a wide spectrum of playing situations, from Classical through to Heavy Metal. More recently, George has been touring and recording with "Swing Out Sister" and recording with Colin McKenzie's "Transit".
Official worldwide release date - February 26, 2016
As a leader, British double bassist and composer Matt Ridley is a specifically investigative musician whose artistry is derived from a desire to create a strong, meaningful and structural purpose out of each initial glint of inspiration.
Following up his debut release on Whirlwind (Thymos, 2013), his new album Mettā – a title and concept referencing themes of benevolence and goodwill – finds him progressing his shared creativity again with his quartet of pianist John Turville, drummer George Hart, and soprano saxophonist Jason Yarde, who appears here in a fuller, more centrally melodic role. Captured within a single day, this is a studio recording brimming with passion and spontaneity.
The seven extended originals of Mettā arise from an almost strategic, compositional plan which inspires engaging extemporisation from all players. Removed from any notion of a conventional head/solo approach, Ridley’s musical landscape is one of focused rhythmic, chordal and improvisational invention which can both challenge and delight – as in storytelling opener 'Music To Drive Home To', whose steady, end-of-day journeying, led by Jason Yarde’s colorful soprano dialogue and John Turville’s spangled ostinati, is punctuated by unpredictable pauses and meanderings.
That spirit is key to the magnetism of this album’s performances, its title track mysteriously building Ridley’s desired sense of amity through the elevated, free expression of his lucid bass soloing, George Hart’s fiery drum and cymbal elaborations, and the soulful cries of Yarde. 'Lachrymose', too, overflows with sensitive expression, Turville’s crystalline piano brightly tempering Yarde’s mournful theme; and 'Strange Meeting’s' romanticism coruscates unexpectedly to crisp, percussive slivers and bewitching soprano imaginings.
A contrasting tour de force is the snappy, chaotic vigor of 'Mental Cases', as the quartet relentlessly pushes the commotion with quick-fire syncopation, pulsating bass momentum, modal pyrotechnics and piano pandemonium. Perpetuating Ridley’s aspirations for engaging music-making, 'The Labyrinth' becalms a similar state of panicky disorientation with elegant-yet-animated combined arco bass and soprano phrases which teasingly and eventually prompt an infectiously wide swing; and to close, classically-inflected 'Ebb and Flow' glints, jewel-like, summing-up this band’s impressive diversity and ebullience.
Matt Ridley describes his quartet’s offering as "considered, composed/improvised music which might transport and entertain both listeners and players, creating and involving all in an awareness of the present – that’s something I feel strongly about.” The immersive experience of these fifty-or-so minutes suggests that intention is excitingly on-track.
Official worldwide release date - October 14, 2013
Thymos is the solo debut from double bassist and composer Matt Ridley, a London-based musician who is known as one of the prominent talents of his generation. An album that blurs the line between genres, the origins ofThymos came from Ridley's collaborations with Oud virtuoso Attab Haddad (featured on the album), and Azeri violinist Sabina Rakcheyeva (joint composer of 'Hijaz'), in a band featuring Mercury Award Nominated artist Kit Downes and percussionist Vasilis Sirikis (also featured). His debut features inspired improvisations from the members of the band while retaining an exciting cohesive group-sound throughout.
"I envisaged a sound encompassing the exotic flavors and emotions of Middle Eastern music with the jazz sensibility of improvisation on complex structures," says Ridley on the inspiration behind the original music on the album. By fusing the modal and rhythmic elements of Middle-Eastern music with the harmonic complexities of jazz, Ridley's composition 'Siddhartha' was born, and what followed was a stream of ideas which aligned themselves into the other music on the album, with influences as diverse as funk, contemporary jazz inspired by both the London and NYC scenes, composers Kenny Wheeler and Vijay Iyer, as well as 20th century minimalism.
The core of the album is the Matt Ridley Trio. Comprised of pianist John Turville, the drumming of George Hart and Ridley at the helm, the trio soars through the leaders' compositions with wit and aplomb, no matter if the terrain is tricksy or serene, creating a sound world that positions them as unique addition to London scene. As a bassist Ridley is solid to the core yet light on his fingers across the fretboard as he navigates his own tunes, using them as a vehicle for expression as both a bassist and accomplished soloist.Special guest saxophonist Jason Yarde perfectly assimilated the feeling of Ridley's compositions, singing the melodies passionately through his horn while turning out some highlight solos on the record. The result is a fine debut from Ridley and one that is unapologetically honest and genuine, fully representing his diverse musical tastes.