Jim Ridl: Blues Liberations

Jim Ridl is quite an interesting player. The pieces on Blues Liberations are, according to the notes, spontaneous compositions, and one is left to wonder how much later reworking is involved. Not that the compositional process is important unless the music stands on its own, and at times the pieces do seem a little one-directional, as if being committed to one original impetus might work against their development. On the other hand, Ridl certainly comes up with original ways to build on ideas that can be traced to blues playing, albeit usually in a pretty abstract way. The general feeling is introspective, but more along the lines of Erik Satie than W. C. Handy. Ridl doesn’t sound like anyone that comes to mind, which is a good sign, but it makes his playing hard to describe. The harmonic sense is advanced and probably owes something to Europeans like Bartok, but I am also reminded of Abdullah Ibrahim’s more adventurous work in places.