‘The Antidote’ is a London based contemporary jazz quintet led by bass player and composer Matt Ridley. The band features Alex Hitchcock, saxophones, Ant Law, guitar, Tom Hewson, piano, and Marc Michel, drums and, for the Ronnie Scott gig Jason Yarde, saxophones. The album The Antidote was released in July of last year and was reviewed by SimplyJazzTalk. This was my first opportunity to hear the music played live – it was also my first visit to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on Frith Street.
The set opened with ‘The Minotaur’, which was every bit as brooding as it sounded on the album and some. The playing was excellent, particularly from Alex Hitchcock and Marc Michel – Marc was as interesting to watch as he was to listen to. There was an energy to the performance that does not come across on the album (the difference between the possibility of another take in the studio against a one off live “take” in front of an audience perhaps). The second number saw Alex Hitchcock step aside for Jason Yarde playing soprano sax on ‘Yardville’. The number’s main theme is established by the piano and picked up by the sax. The tune has a nice flow to it with guitar, piano, and sax moving the tune forward building the intensity of the sound as they do so – apparently this is the most streamed track from the album, and it is easy to understand why.
The evening moved on to a four-part suite (Suite part 1, Gautomo. 2. Stranger Things. 3. Adagio for the Fallen Stars. 4. Finale), which was played through without a break and was, for me, the highlight of a very good evening. The music, composed by Matt Ridley, ranged from the simple to the complex and contained moments of wonderful poignancy, vibrancy, and tonal variations and colour. The playing, either as an ensemble, any combination of players, or solo, was superb, and no matter how well the CD was recorded, nothing prepared me for the amazing energy of the ‘Suite’ as it was played this evening.
This was a terrific evening entertainment in the most wonderful jazz club that is Ronnie Scott’s, and it was rounded off with an encore piece entitled ‘Georgina Diablo’, which can be seen and heard in the video below. Matt Ridley was an engaging MC, writes some incredible music, is a bass player I want to hear more of, and surrounds himself with quality musicians who bring out the very best of the compositions set out before them. I will say it again, what a terrific evening of quality jazz music!