REVIEW: Matt Ridley Quartet at Lauderdale House

The Matt Ridley Quartet
L-R: Jason Yarde, Matt Ridley. George Hart, John Turville
Publicity photo

Matt Ridley Quartet
(Lauderdale House, 7 June 2018. Review by Brian Blain)

It's just possible that "the times they are a changing", perhaps slowly, but if the rapt crowd at last Thursday's Lauderdale House gig by brilliant bassist Matt Ridley's Quartet, played in front of the kind of audience you would expect to see at a classic mainstream show, with a sprinkling of younger faces is any indication, if original post-bop music is strong and exciting enough, jazz in the UK definitely has a future. Make no mistake Jason Yarde (soprano saxophone), John Turville (piano) and George Hart (drums) may well be unfamiliar to large numbers of the jazz public, but of the fact that they, and the music that they play, are of the highest quality there is no doubt.

Presenting music from two of their albums, Metta and Thymos, music for the most part built on swirling compound time signatures, their second tune, Lachrymose, was a ravishingly sensuous tango, where Ridley's bass solo positively glowed with a full, rich sound, absolutely perfect for the atmosphere that tango generates.

The multi-metred Labyrinth, which produced a kind of reassuring swing feel, gave both Yarde and Turville a chance to dance, and Jason's thrilling, cutting sound and seemingly endless flow of ideas completely wiped out my usual curmudgeonly approach to the "horrible shrieking tube" when saxophone players bring a soprano out of its case half way through a set. He really is quite magnificent.

Impossible to spin words that do justice to the fresh, original material that this band plays, most, if not all, of it written by Matt  Ridley I would imagine: music that not only revels in rhythmic virtuosity but strong harmonic movement and appealing melodic content, far removed from that dreary cracking two chords for half an hour stuff, which was the worst aspect of Coltrane's legacy.

None of the rhythmic basis would work without the sheer musicality of George Hart's drumming but it was the masterstroke of introducing the Bobby Timmons' classic Moanin' from the late '50s with its loose floppy groove just before the interval which would have won any doubters over – although I doubt that by then there probably would not have been a single one.

Brian Blain is on the programming team at Lauderdale House.

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