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Mysterious Traveler - Kevin Ripley - Starting Things Off


During the summer of 2014, Leo Gadson of Producer's Guild, Adam Feldman of the The Free Library and Homer Jackson of PJP teamed up to develop a daring, new performance series: Mysterious Traveler Concert Series. The series featured FREE monthly concerts for 8 months during the 2014-15 season. It showcased a diverse array of Jazz performers who are shaping the future sounds of Philadelphia and had quietly grown into one of the most exciting musical events in the city. Many audience members stated that they couldn't believe that it was free.


Well, it's back. Mysterious Travelers 2: Great Migrations. Back by overwhelming popular demand! FREE concerts every fourth Monday night from October 2015 through May 2016 audiences will hear from veteran, as well as up-and-coming musicians who are shaping the future sounds of Philadelphia with a sharp ear to the legacies of our past. This season will directly honor and celebrate the past century’s brave journey of African Americans to Philadelphia from the South to which we owe our rich urban musical heritage. Starting in January 2016, each band leader will be presenting a new composition inspired by the Great Migration during his or her set.


Don't miss the continuing fireworks from this concert series!!!!


Mysterious Traveler 2 - Great Migrations Schedule

October 26, 2015 | Kevin Ripley

November 23, 2015 | Bernard Samuel

December 28, 2015 | Anthony DeCarlo

January 25, 2016 | Madison Rast

February 22, 2016 | William “Wali” Bickley

March 28, 2016 | Najwa Parkins

April 25, 2016 | Victor North

May 23, 2016 | Kim Pedro


All events in this series are FREE.
Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189


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Drummer, pianist Kevin Ripley is the first performer for the 2nd season of the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series. We spoke with him about his work.


PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?


Kevin Ripley: My musical direction is about moving forward.  I enjoy making music for the world not just other musicians. I am always trying to work on ideas or write something that is going to challenge myself in a way in which I feel accomplished. Creating compositions and grooves that are completely original and unique is also a direction I follow. I have been writing more than ever this past year and it has opened up a lot of musical and life pathways.

PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?


Kevin Ripley: Being that I am largely self taught, mostly all of my creative approaches come straight from myself. I am interested in staying true to myself and creating music that doesn't sound like anything else out there. Without being narcissistic, I try to bring myself in the purest form to my compositions, accompaniment, and personality on the band stand. Obviously, like any musician, I have many influences. Marcus Gilmore, Elvin Jones, Aphex Twin, Herbie Hancock, Jimi Hendrix and Bill Stewart amongst many, many others. These artist have helped me discover my own art form but, I never want to sound like a duplicate or even close to one. Sometimes, I listen back to recordings of myself and I hear some of these influences come out too clear and it makes me uncomfortable.  Having an original sound is definitely an extremely difficult task to conquer but I am willing to put the time into this awesome process.

PJP: How do you manage the task of creating and encouraging fresh, new, forwarding moving musical ideas, while simultaneously exploring, celebrating and documenting the past?


Kevin Ripley: Well, being that there is such a wide array of music out there these days, it's hard not to be able to find fresh, cutting edge music. I think we live in a time in which musical creativity is coming from so many different places and the possibilities are endless. I try to embrace these thoughts when I compose but also still try to think back about how some of the great composers and performers would go about writing or performing a piece of music. There are a lot of genre crossed musicians and bands out there now. I think the beauty of these musicians is that they are combining ideas from the past and present to create something that sounds unique but still has that influence of the greats in there. 

PJP: When listening to your music, what advice would you give to audiences to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?


Kevin Ripley: I would recommend going into my compositions with a clear slate, no preconceived ideas of what "jazz" should be. Possibilities are limitless in the jazz world now! Being that I am a drummer, I compose with a strong sense of rhythmic approaches. An audience should be able to move, bop your head, sing, do anything that makes you feel good about life if it moves you. I think an audience can either sit back close his/her eyes and absorb the sounds or groove along with us! Overall, I want the audience to expect to hear some different sounds and leave with an optimistic head space. 

PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, why Jazz?


Kevin Ripley: Being on a constant journey is something that has always stuck out to me. Basically, I play jazz and (all kinds of music) because it consistently awards me with the ability to be able to express myself. Playing feels incredibly natural to me. Theres nothing else I'd rather be doing. I can always be working on something whether its practicing drum set or piano, composing, collaborating with new musicians, making electronic music, or even establishing friendships! The possibilities are endless.

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