Guitarist and composer Ryan Blotnick has been called “a vital contemporary voice” by Time Out NY and “engagingly pensive” by the New York Times. He specializes in an eclectic blend of jazz and avant-garde and also composes music for film.
He currently teaches guitar and improvisation at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, records with his duo project Fishblot (with Danny Fisher-Lochhead) and plays in a number of local groups such as The Soul Benders, Katherine Perkins, and Caroline Cotter.
At the age of 24, Blotnick’s debut album Music Needs You (Songlines, 2008) was praised for its mature synthesis of contemporary jazz and rock. The next year, Everything Forgets (Songlines, 2009) expanded on those concepts with veteran drummer Jeff Williams. After several years as a sideman with Pete Robbins & Centric, the Michael Blake Band, Akoya Afrobeat, and other NYC groups, he did some soul-searching with Solo, Volume I (Self-Released, 2012), an ambient exploration of the acoustic sounds of his childhood. His fourth album Kush (Songlines, 2016) expressed an “ambient approach rooted in jazz, blues, Afro/Latin and even psychedelia” (Elliott Simon). His latest release small talk (ears&eyes Records, 2022) with the duo FISHBLOT is a collection of improvisations that Something Else Reviews called “fluidly lyrical…easily relatable but impossible to categorize.”
As a film composer Blotnick taps into a wide range of sounds from the underground music scene - backwards guitars, analog synths, edgy strings - to create compelling scores that lend an authentic and emotional depth to the silver screen. He shaped his sound alongside his brother’s energetic docs including Gods and Kings (2011), and The Hand that Feeds (PBS, 2014), which won the Audience Award at both Full Frame and DOC NYC. His score for Rachel Lears’ Knock Down the House (Netflix, 2019), helped it earn the Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award at Sundance, get shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, and sell to Netflix for $10 million. His latest film score for To The End (Impact Partners/Lost Gang 2022) featured Thomas Morgan, Sam Sadigursky and members of the Mivos Quartet. It premiered at Sundance, Tribeca and CPH DOX and was called “Passionate. Emotional and Human” by Buttered Popcorn and “cathartically searing” by Paste Magazine.
At age 16, Blotnick attended William Paterson University’s notorious jazz program on a full scholarship, where he studied with Paul Meyers, Harold Mabern and Gene Bertoncini. He then transferred to the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Denmark, where he earned a Masters in Music Performance and studied with Bjarne Roupé, Lotte Anker and Jakob Bro. On an exchange back to New York from the Danish school, he studied guitar with Steve Cardenas, Fuxian counterpoint and Schoenberg’s Theory of Harmony with Paul Caputo, and did one-off lessons/sessions with many amazing downtown musicians such as John Abercrombie, Barry Altschul, and Andrew Cyrille. In his New York years he had the chance to play with many amazing musicians such as Tyshawn Sorey, Ben Allison, Dan Weiss, Mark Guiliana, Ben Allison, Mat Maneri, and Lee Konitz. His early mentors on guitar were Jesse Voccia, Ed Roseman, and Bob Thompson who also got him hooked on coffee and Lenny Breau! He has taught guitar lessons for two and a half decades, and taught at Maine Jazz Camp in 2013 alongside Michael Sarin, Kirk Knuffke and Frank Carlberg.