Ryan Blotnick (b. 1983) is a New England-based composer and improviser who creates ambient score music for documentary films, and specializes in jazz, avant-garde, and afrobeat guitar.
As a film composer he taps into a wide range of sounds from the underground music scene - backwards guitars, analog synths, and edgy strings - to create compelling scores that lend an authentic feel and emotional depth to documentaries. He shaped his sound alongside his brother’s energetic docs including Gods and Kings (2011), and The Hand that Feeds (2014), which won the Audience Awards at both Full Frame and DOC NYC. His most recent score for Knock Down the House (Netflix, 2019) helped earn it the Festival Favorite Award at Sundance Film Festival.
As a jazz guitarist, Blotnick’s debut album Music Needs You (Songlines, 2008) was praised for its maturity and synthesis of freshly contemporary jazz and rock. The next year, Everything Forgets (Songlines, 2009) expanded on those concepts with a focus on free improvisation. After several years of playing with Pete Robbins and Centric, the Michael Blake Band, and Akoya Afrobeat, he did some soul-searching with Solo, Volume I (2012), an ambient exploration of the acoustic guitar sounds of his childhood. His latest album Kush (Songlines, 2016) expresses an “ambient approach rooted in jazz, blues, Afro/Latin and even psychedelia (Elliott Simon).”
Blotnick attended William Paterson University on a full scholarship for jazz and transferred to the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Denmark, where he earned a Masters in Music Performance. Upon returning to New York, he studied counterpoint and Schoenberg’s Theory of Harmony with Paul Caputo. His mentors on guitar include Bob Thompson, Gene Bertoncini and Steve Cardenas. He has also studied with other improvisers including Lee Konitz, Ben Street and Andrew Cyrille.
As a guitarist, his work has been praised by the New York Times’ Nate Chinen and guitarists John Abercrombie and Ben Monder. He lives in Southwest Harbor, Maine next to Acadia National Park and travels often to New York and Europe to perform and record.