As the eponymous leader of his own Quartet, 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 2013 debut release Thymos on Whirlwind Recordings, his new album Mettã – 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.
Ahead of The Matt Ridley Quartet playing The Hen and Chicken, Bristol on April 17 and Swansea Jazzland on May 4, Andy Howells recently put questions to Matt about his work…
What lead you to becoming a musician?
When I started playing bass guitar aged 15 I felt like I’d found my calling. So I worked really hard, practicing different styles of music and playing in bands. This eventually led me to jazz and the double bass.
Who or what has inspired you most on your musical journey?
Ron Carter, Dave Holland, Chick Corea, Charlie Haden, Jaco Pastorius, Miroslav Vitous, Flea are some of my favourite bass players/musicians! Inspiration….I dare say that I’m still discovering new and awe-inspiring music after 20 years of constantly seeking out new music. The never ending creativity of the human mind…that’s pretty inspiring!!
Can you give us some background about your latest album?
When Jason Yarde recorded with the band on our first album Thymos, his playing was inspirational and he ended up joining the band for all our gigs after that recording session. So I started writing music for quartet rather than trio. This album is the result of that process. There’s quite a specific feel to the whole album which I would describe as melodic soulful epicness!
You’re touring shortly are you looking forward to that?
Yes very much so. With generous support from the Arts Council of England, we are able to do a lot of rehearsing and I’m using the time to develop new material as well as honing tunes from the two existing albums.
What can people expect from your forthcoming Swansea gig?
Memorable tunes, exciting rhythms, burning improvisations! Plus some dry wit…
What are you enjoying listening to at the moment?
Elvin Jones Quartet Live at the Lighthouse, Charlie Haden Tokyo Adagio and Nocturne, Chris Potter Imaginary Cities and Beethoven String Quartets (I just bought a boxed set of all of them)
- For more information on The Matt Ridley Quartet, visit his official website and his Soundcloud page
- A version of this Q&A by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 1, 2016.