Matt Ridley began his musical journey on piano aged 6. By his mid teens he had gravitated towards bass guitar, and was gigging professionally at age 19. In 2001 he enrolled at Trinity College of Music, and it was there that he began learning the double bass. He performed his final recital entirely on this instrument, and upon graduating with a Bmus honours degree in Jazz Studies, he was awarded the Trinity College of Music 'Friends in New York' award. Since graduating, he has also made a comprehensive study of classical music under the tutelage of LSO bassist Jani Pensola, and in 2017 won a Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music diploma in classical double bass.
A true devotee of his instrument, discernible influences on his playing span the last 60+ years of jazz history, to include Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Gary Peacock and Dave Holland, as well as more modern players such as Christian McBride and Larry Grenadier. As well as being exceptionally studied, his outlook is also forward looking and individual, his own music representing a unique melange of contemporary jazz, classical music and world music.
Based in London, he has performed internationally and at many of the UK's most prestigious venues such as the Purcell Room, Cadogan Hall, Ronnie Scott’s, King’s Place, the Barbican, and the O2 Arena.
As a band leader, Matt released his debut album ‘Thymos’ on Whirlwind Recordings in 2013. Featuring the talents of award-winning pianist John Turville, drummer George Hart, and guest appearances from saxophonist Jason Yarde, oud maestro Attab Haddad and percussionist Vasilis Sirikis, the album represents a substantial artistic statement of both compositional and improvisational chutzpah. The release was followed by an extensive UK tour, both of which were lauded by critics.
Matt's follow-up album, entitled 'Mettā', was released in February 2016. With Jason Yarde now a core member of the group, the entire quartet recording was completed in one day - a testament to the empathy and communication between the musicians. Building on the highly melodic, rhythmically inventive style of 'Thymos', particularly in terms of virtuosic improvisations and a more mature and soulful compositional outlook, the album has garnered 4-star reviews across the board. The group have been hailed as 'One of Britain's very finest contemporary quartets' (Jazzviews) and continue to perform regularly around the UK.
From 2011-2016, Matt also led the 'MJQ Celebration'. A straight-ahead yet modern outfit, the band featured award winning vibraphonist Jim Hart, pianist Barry Green, and Steve Brown on drums. The group performed around the UK and released an eponymous CD in April 2014 (produced by Ridley), which received glowing reviews and was described by the London Jazz Blog as ‘an enormously entertaining project, already leaping on top of an early 'best of 2014' pile'
Matt is an in-demand sideman, known equally for his work with younger musicians on the contemporary jazz scene, and with older, more established names. He has worked extensively with guitarist Ant Law in his 'Art of Rhythm' trio with drummer Asaf Sirkis, and with Darius Brubeck (son of Dave Brubeck) in a quartet featuring Dave O'Higgins on saxophone. In a more ad hoc capacity he has performed at home and abroad with the best of the UK jazz scene, and with artists from the US, Europe and Africa, most recently Mulatu Astatke, steel pan phenomenon Leon Foster Thomas and rising star pianist Tal Cohen.
Matt is actively involved in education and has led workshops and masterclasses at conservatoire level, taught on residential jazz courses, (including Glamorgan and Michael Garrick's Jazz Academy) and more recently on Sound and Music's 'Young Composers' Summer school. He also teaches privately from home and via Skype, and welcomes tuition inquiries from dedicated students of music.
The seven extended originals of Mettā arise from an almost strategic, compositional plan which inspires engaging extemporisation from all players.
"I envisaged a sound encompassing the exotic flavors and emotions of Middle Eastern music with the jazz sensibility of improvisation on complex structures,"
The ‘MJQ Celebration’ is a coming together of some of today’s most celebrated UK jazz musicians, to pay homage to one of the most celebrated jazz ensembles of all time, the ‘Modern Jazz Quartet’