MATT RIDLEY QUARTET: Live at Out to Lunch in the Cadogan Hall, London

Our jazz editor Tony Andrews writes ....

Anyone who has read my previous ramblings must by now realise just how much I love Cadogan Hall as a venue and Out to Lunch as an event.

I have been attending since the start and I have seen some sensational musicians; ones who have inspired my love of Jazz as a musical genre. Unaccountably, this season has been the best by far. The musicianship has been stunning and the overall performances as a whole band or group have been, well …. In a word, mesmerizing.

I know for a fact that the musicians also love the venue and OTL so I can only assume this has inspired their performance levels to as near perfection as is possible in a live environment. I intend to review most of the OTL Concerts but I’m starting with The Matt Ridley Quartet for the simple reason that their performance keeps haunting me to distraction.

I’m particularly drawn to Jazz which is towards the edge-of-the-World and experimental music. This magnificent band stretch this to the limit.

To start at the beginning Jazz groups which are led by a double bass players are not unique, but far rarer than bands led by the more traditional lead instruments.

I have attended many concerts where the band is led from the bass but this is – in practice - in name only and typically bass player ‘merely’ formed the band. Matt Ridley, though, not only formed this sensational band but leads it as if he is turning his instrument in to a lead instrument.


This is rare and, as far as I can judge, comes is in to the same category as Charles Mingus who really led his various bands from his instrument. Matt obviously has a talent for bringing together some of the finest musicians in this country and probably the World. Jason Yarde already has an enviable reputation for his musicianship on various Saxophones but he excels on the Soprano Sax.

John Turville is a pianist who while being so agile as a Jazz musician may well, I suspect, be equally proficient within the Classical repertoire. His precision reminded me of watching a concert pianist playing Rachmaninov or other composers of this ilk.

George Hart is an inventive drummer who was as interesting to watch as he was to listen to.

As a holistic (if that’s the appropriate word in this context) entity this band is mind-blowing. To put this in perspective, I had the delightful company of a charming Danish friend of mine at this concert. She is not a great jazz fan so is very selective as to what she likes. That said, at the end of two hours of The Matt Ridley Quartet all she could say was “WOW ….. that ….. was ….. amazing”.


Forget any preconceived ideas of Jazz because the music we heard at OTL was steeped in Middle Eastern time sequences tinged with what I believe is called Chamber Jazz. The first set started with Mental Cases and Strange Meeting which are featured on their CD Metta on Whirlwind Recordings. This was followed by Siddhartha and The River which are both featured on their CD Thymos also on Worldwind.

The second set was just as exciting with Yardeville's Canon, Ebb & Flow and Hijaz - all of which were so different and inventive as to just draw you right into the performance. I’m sure by now you have the picture that in my opinion The Matt Ridley Quartet are an absolute must-go-and-see-live experience.

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If you live in Shetland or The Scilly Isles and can't see them live but still want to hear them then buy both CDs as mentioned. They are both beautifully recorded and the sound has such impact that you will believe you are sitting at a live performance – in row H.

I firmly believe that first class recordings are essential to hearing the music in the fullest detail so you can hear every nuance. I know appearance is not an important factor in a serious musician but Matt has a style about him which is quite imposing and looks the part of leader and front man of distinction.

I have rarely encountered a musician that hypnotized me with his musical skills and his ability to pull the rest of the band together. Matt also creates a rich, vibrant sound from his instrument; this being something I feel strongly about.

There are many bass players who are perfectly adequate in musical terms but …. well, frankly ….. their instrument appears to trap the sound within its body. Even when this sound is amplified this can still sounds flat and lifeless. I can't wait to be taken out of myself again at a future concert, go and be amazed.