Matt Ridley Trio with Jason Yarde

The Red Lion, Hockley, Birmingham

Bassist and composer Matt Ridley’s debut recording Thymos was released on Monday on the Whirlwind label and it’s already garnering top reviews. The line-up at the Red Lion differed somewhat from that recording, with Tom Hewson on keyboards and Nick Smalley on drums stepping up for the current tour. Acclaimed guest soprano and alto sax player, former Jazz Warrior, Jason Yarde’s presence was expanded to play on most of the tunes during this performance. It would also have been great to hear percussionist Vasilis Sirkis and oud player Attab Haddad, who also featured on the album, playing live too.

The original compositions on show encompassed a diverse range of imaginative influences including Arabic music, Azerbaijani folk and minimalism whilst remaining faithful to the origins of modern jazz.

One of highlights of the first set was the elegant minimalist-influenced title track from the new recording. Yarde’s soprano on this reminded me of a furious bird, at times, rising over bold complex keyboards and muscular percussion before reaching a calmer medative conclusion. The exotic Siddhartha, named after the Herman Hesse novel, was another stand-out piece featuring influences from the modal rhythmic elements of Middle-eastern music with Yarde’s exotic soprano playing climbing to towering heights.

An assured first set, although perhaps the choice of material created a slightly too consistent atmosphere. The second set was a much more combative affair. Mental Cases featured a luminous resonating double bass, and a keyboard solo reminiscent of Chick Corea, ending with a lovely rippling and fluttering soprano sax. My favorite piece of the evening was Hijazz, which closed the set, and pushed the dynamics to another level with inspired bass and complex driving dervish- like alto playing from Jason Yarde.

Set list:
Theme and Variation
Homage to Kenny Wheeler
Strange Meeting new tune
Siddhartha/The River
Mental Cases
Ebb and Flow
Sari Gelin

Categories: Live review

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