Jim Ridl Blue Corn Enchilada Dreams Jim Ridl Records2011Jim Ridl is one of our most creative and versatile jazz pianists, an acknowledged master often called upon by his peers for their recordings and live performances. Whether he works along with saxophonists Dave Liebman and Charles Pillow, or flugelhornist Anthony Branker, or vocalist JD Walter, or in a duet context with guitarist Pat Martino, Ridl always adds something special to the mix, conjuring up ideas and images from some inexhaustible think tank within. At the same time, he blends seamlessly with the music ...read more
The idea for this interview came to me when I became aware of two aspects of jazz as a creative, artistic process. First, unlike most other art forms, jazz creativity emerges directly in performance through improvisation. Every jazz performance is unique and comes together in real time while it is being played. Each moment is an original contribution, and not merely an interpretation. Second, it is clear that some musicians push the envelope more than others. They take necessary risks to explore new territory. Sometimes, they redefine the nature of jazz itself. While they appreciate their lineage, they are not ...read more
Jim Ridl, who's been with Pat Martino's bands for years, deserves to be better known. Not only is he a personal, forceful pianist, he's also a first-rate composer and arranger who knows how to put together a band and how to make thoroughly engaging albums like this one. Country songs like Hank Williams' title opus and Tennessee Waltz are not the usual fare of jazz musicians (exception: saxophonist Benny Wallace). In trio with bassist Steve Varner and drummer Jim Miller, Ridl digs into Your Cheatin' Heart as if moving the geography from Williams' Alabama to the Mississippi shores of Memphis. ...read more
Jim Ridl Quintet Deerhead Inn Delaware Water Gap, PA September 3, 2005
Pianist Jim Ridl's new CD, Your Cheatin' Heart, is a jazz take on some country and western classics along with some standards and original compositions. It is rich with novel ideas and textures and is bound to attract attention. So I was excited to attend one of two CD release performances, this one at the Deerhead Inn, and the other to take place on Labor Day at the Brandywine Jazz and Wine Festival. I drove up from Philadelphia to the Delaware Water ...read more
Jim Ridl Your Cheatin' Heart Dreambox Media DMJ-1080 2005In addition to being a highly skilled and accomplished jazz pianist, Jim Ridl is a creative and resourceful musician, composer, and arranger who draws on a rich legacy of musical and personal resources to develop a wide range of musical ideas and concepts unified by his deep grasp of the blues and its endless potential to be reborn in new forms. Each of his recordings has a particular theme, mood, and content in which the separate tracks flow into one another in a way ...read more
The Jim Ridl Jazz Quartet Performing Dave Brubeck's Hold Fast to Dreams" Set to the poems of Langston Hughes Nassau Presbyterian Church, Princeton Saturday, February 12, 2005
Sometimes we need to be reminded who we are and what's important in life. The essentials are easily forgotten in the rush of daily activities. When a musical event serves as such a reminder, it's noteworthy indeed. That's what this stellar performance of Dave Brubeck's choral composition, Hold Fast to Dreams" turned out to be.
Fundamentally, the concert reminded us that music and life are ...read more
Pianist Jim Ridl is emerging as an innovative force in jazz, a pianist of the highest caliber, a creative composer and improviser, and one of those rare musicians who stretches the art form even as he honors the established traditions. Technically and improvisationally formidable in performance and recordings, he is equally comfortable with his own groups as with his collaborations with such innovators and jazz icons as Pat Martino and David Liebman .
In true jazz tradition, Jim’s music tells a story and expresses a myriad of nuanced emotions. At the same time, Jim thrives on spontaneous musical expression and ...read more
"Concept" albums are commonplace in jazz these days, and some artists seem to release nothing but. On the best of these, the idea behind the record adds depth and cohesion to the music within, but too often we end up with weak conceits masking lack of invention (think about all the . . .plays Jobim", or . . .does showtunes" CDs in the racks). The new album by Philadelphia pianist Jim Ridl, Door In A Field , is an example of the former happy category.
Working in a trio format with bassist Daryl Hall and drummer Mark Walker, ...read more
On Saturday evening, December 13, 2003, Philadelphia was blessed to have two international jazz greats perform at a small, local venue, The Tin Angel . Of course, Pat Martino is a Philadelphian, and Jim Ridl lives near Princeton, so in that sense they are “local,” but the set that I attended was a world-class event, a remarkable display of musical virtuosity and musicality that I, for one, will never forget. I was enraptured and electrified by what I heard. It reminded me of the incredible, ground breaking Village Vanguard sets of the 1960’s.
Nearly everyone around Philly knows Martino, the ...read more
Deciphering the network of Philly-area jazz musicians is a difficult thing. However, pianist Jim Ridl stands out as a local musician whose eloquent musical statements grab audience attention in a heartbeat, whether he’s playing with his own trio or as a sideman. He has played with one of Philly’s most famous, Pat Martino, for more than ten years, but his unique approach has made him one of the most outspoken solo musicians on the scene today.
Ridl’s debut recording, Five Minutes to Madness and Joy, is on the Synergy label. Following that, he released a ...read more
On Blues Liberation" master sideman Jim Ridl goes it alone in a program of improvised solo piano compositions. The disc opens with Blues Azzara", an homage to the great Pat Martino, one of the band leaders Jim’s wonderful piano has contributed so much to in recent years. (Azzara is Pat’s birth name.) Replete with dark, ominous chords, counter-point, note retentions and wandering right hand figures, it’s a fine, wistful dedication. Battle of the Bands" is a modern take on the grand history of the piano, as swing, stride and boogie-woogie effortlessly flow together into a big band sound while Jim’s ...read more
Taking something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, Jim Ridl accomplishes something uncommon on Blues Liberations that seems painfully obvious: He investigates the multitudinous forms of the blues. Now that may seem common because various piano masters like Jaki Byard, or even the under-appreciated pianist Ray Charles, have elevated the blues even higher as an art form from its earthy beginnings. Yet, Ridl's avenues of approach involve discrepant and sometimes contradictory routes as they converge at the ultimate source of the music.Rather than extended themes, Ridl's blues variations establish a mood and then go on to ...read more
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