Matt Ridley

The Antidote
(Ubuntu Records)

London-based bassist and composer Matt Ridley emphasizes aspects of rock, folk and classical within jazz. It yields a more accessible, less electronic version of Donny McCaslin’s harder-edged stuff. That’s a pretty good thing, at least in the case of The Antidote. It demonstrates a firm grasp of mood and melody, but also a zealous — at times even aggressive — approach to improvisation.

Not that the mood and melody are always restrained, but the contrast is there. “Ebb And Flow” is a thoughtful piece with a tender piano line and Ridley’s expressive arco bass playing lead. The heat that saxophonist Alex Hitchcock generates with his voracious solo, and that guitarist Ant Law inherits, is unexpected. Ditto “Stranger Things,” the second movement in a four-part suite, where Law offsets an introspective waltz tune with an improv that turns up the twang. Yet sometimes the inverse is true: Pianist Tom Hewson’s solo acts as a coolant for the caustic first movement, “Gautoma,” resisting urgent prods from drummer Marc Michel in a way that Hitchcock, the second soloist, does not.

As for Ridley, he takes long, agile solos. This bass player has something to say, and, by God, he’s going to say it.

On Sale Now
May 2024
Stefon Harris
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