Five Minutes to Madness and Joy
It's easy to understand why guitar great Pat Martino chose Jim Ridl as his current pianistic foil and right-hand man. Few other pianists have the kind of surging energy and harmonic ingenuity it takes to hang with Pat. A major talent who is gradually gaining recognition, Ridl has a strong penchant for reharmonization, as he demonstrates here on a modal adaptation of Sonny Rollins' "Oleo" (or as he recently demonstrated on Denis DiBlasio's Rhino on Encounter Music). He so thoroughly investigates John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice," slowing the tempo down and reforming it into a dark, introspective ballad, that he is wholly within his rights to claim arranger credit and rename the piece "Adagio for John Coltrane." Likewise with his brilliant, radically recast solo rendition of Trane's "A Love Supreme."
Ridl is ably accompanied here (as he was on DiBlasio's CD) by his very flexible rhythm section mates, Darryl Hall on bass and Jim Miller on drums. Together they strike a swinging accord on Ridl's bristling "Paint Your Rhythm" and organically meld into one gentle voice on his moving, hymn-like "Carry Me Home," which carries allusions to "Swing Low Sweet Chariot." The title track, inspired by Walt Whitman's poem "One Hour to Madness and Joy" from Leaves of Grass, is done as a bravado solo piece at the outset and is reprised at the close as an aggressively swinging trio offering. And Ridl's jaunty original, "Sylvester's Rag," is heavily indebted to Thelonious Monk's "Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues Are."
If Ridl, a mild-mannered product of North Dakota who currently resides somewhere in suburban New Jersey, was hanging regularly on the New York City scene, he'd be dripping with critical acclaim by now. Talent this rich, deep, and focused simply cannot be denied, whether it comes from the outer regions of Jersey or the Outback of Australia. Remember that name.