Brian Betz and Jim Ridl

Dichotomy and Your Cheatin’ Heart

Philadelphia has spawned almost as many jazz musicians as cities like New Orleans, Chicago and New York. Dreambox Media, a Philadelphia-based independent musicians’ co-op dedicated to promoting that city’s jazz artists, has been recording the latest batch of cats. In operation since 1995, the label presents an alternative to (in their words) the “‘smooth’ variety [of jazz] force-fed to us by corporate interests.” Among the new men, whose music varies from the laid-back to the hot, are guitarist Brian Betz and pianist Jim Ridl. Betz uses Ridl’s trio on Dichotomy, a program of 10 tunes (all but three of them originals) that kicks off in high gear with his “Cohabitation.” Billy Strayhorn’s “Chelsea Bridge” is a lovely solo effort, while “You Stepped Out of a Dream” engages all four in some fascinating counterpoint on the intro and outro. The hottest track is “Razor Sharp,” where Ridl really rips it up. And Ridl’s CD, Your Cheatin’ Heart, offers the trio’s superb, relaxed interpretation of the classic Hank Williams ballad. “Caravan” (“always an intriguing journey,” says Ridl) is the longest track and features three guests: A scatting vocalist (definitely an acquired taste), soprano sax and guitar.