Matthew Rybicki - Driven
Bassist Matthew Rybicki has been providing keen
support for some of the biggest names in New York
since the late ‘90s. Now, for the first time, Rybicki is
front and center, releasing a straightahead collection of
mostly originals under the determinedly-titled Driven,
presenting a well-rounded portrait of himself as
bassist, composer and soloist.
The album opens with the unsurprisingly sedate
“The Slow Stride”. Starting with a fluttering trumpet
run by Freddie Hendrix the song quickly settles into
that titular stride with a Messengers-esque melody
and plenty of swing. The next two tracks are midtempo
trio features with Rybicki making a coy Michael
Jackson reference to close out his busy solo on “Seventh
Sun” while he and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. trade
odd-numbered phrases on “A Mean Lean”.
“Lowcountry Boil” finds the band casually stretching
out with just Rybicki backing saxophonist Ron Blake
for a chorus before the whole band is back and
swinging hard. Pianist Gerald Clayton drops atonal
clumps amid his otherwise straightforward solo before
Rybicki takes his chance to solo in bite-sized phrases.
There are two self-penned ballads in the set, both
led by Hendrix’ misty flugelhorn. “Lisa’s Song”
weaves over gentle horn harmonies and subdued
drums. Most of the band contributes demure solos
before leaving as softly as they came in. “Someday I
May Be Far Away” is a little more vibrant with splashy
cymbals and a nicely constructed solo from Hendrix.
Of the 11 tracks on the album only two are non-originals.
The first, calypso standard “Yellow Bird”, is
led by Blake’s soprano saxophone, which leaps amid
the almost reggae/swing background while “Secret
Love”, the Doris Day hit, is drastically sped up with
the horn-less band flying through the melody to set up
a display of immaculate brush work by Owens.
It may have taken awhile for Rybicki to release his
first work as a leader but the results reap the benefits
of his patience. With the help of a great backing band
and a nimble pen, he has proven he is more than ready
for the spotlight.
Matthew Rybicki @ New York City Jazz Record