Tag Archives: marc ribot

Marc Ribot @ the Vanguard: Last Call

Tonight’s the final night of Marc Ribot’s trio at the Village Vanguard.

Here’s what it sounds like.   Here’s Nate Chinen’s take.

Here my Voice blab: Evidently this is the wily guitarist’s first gig as a leader in the venerable jazz cellar. Ribot’s rep as a big-hearted rad fits right in with the Vanguard’s lefty aesthetic, of course. His insightful improv has always made plenty of room for lyricism, so this trio’s rumble can be catchy. And can someone help out with the math? Is this the first time Henry Grimes has hauled his bass down these famed stairs since he and Albert Ayler recorded there in the ’60s?

Here’s a revealing Q&A with MR.

Which Monk Tune Is Most Fun To Play?

Glee spilled from Anthony Coleman’s fingers last night as he and his trio skipped around “Played Twice” the Undead Jazz Fest’s Littlefield hit. Terry Adams once told me that it’s silly to play anything that’s not fun. Marc Ribot recently told me that “fun is the only impulse I trust.” Elliott Sharp and Matt Wilson also had a blast bouncing through the master’s book. Which Thelonious tune brings out the giddy side of you? The question isn’t for musicians only. Record-spinning fans can answer, too. One of mine is “Coming On the Hudson.” Take it away…


Here’s “Played Twice” – Team Coleman played it much quicker.

Sixth Great Moment of Last Night’s Undead Jazz Fest

You’ve seen the top five great moments of last night Undeadathon? Here’s the lagniappe:

6. Ceramic Dog Takes Five, Ten, Fifteen, Twenty on Brubeck.

Marc Ribot, Ches Smith, and Shahzad Ismaily were concluding some kind of gleeful shit storm, and out of the blue Paul Desmond’s famed riffs fell like a rock slide from the guitarist’s fretboard. There’s wasn’t too much nudge and wink in the air; yes they were slapping around “Take Five,” but they were kissing it, too. By the time it started to sound like an outtake from After Bathing At Baxters, you knew it was going to be a strong set for the threesome.

The Undead Jazz Festival: Ten Must-See Shows

Man, you can’t see ’em all. There’s something like 50 shows, after all. But you can try to slip into the ones you think might tickle you hardest. It’s an wonderfully imaginative line-up, as I mentioned in the Voice.  Get a grip on the scope of it all, high-light your own choices, and head out. Take along the 50 Songs of June Jazz list and add your own entries. Argue over the 25 Jazz CDs That Just Might Make End-of-the-Year Lists. Here are 10 key Undead gig suggestions that stretch from the Village to Gowanus.

1. Paradoxical Frog (Sullivan Hall, 23)

Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey and Ingrid Laubrock (along with guest Mat Maneri) made a devastating statement at the Vision Festival. They’ve honed their delivery of abstract dramatic episodes to a tee.

2. Duets Night (Bell House, 24)

You can call it a suite in progress. Here’s a game for you: close your eyes for the entire show and see if you can recognize each of the characters who take the stage.

3. Ches Smith’s Cong’s For Brums  (Cameo, 26) 

A philosophy major with Curran and Oliveros in his past,  Smith has become one of town’s key percussionists. His solo thingee incorporates all sorts of soundscapes, from aggressive to ambient.

4. Dave King Trucking Company (Sullivan Hall, 23) 

Two reeds up front, plenty of ideas in the back. The Bad Plus drummer has insights into blending swing pulses and rock clatter, and he feeds his new band mates provocative notions at every turn.

5. Jeff Lederer’s Sunwatcher  (Littlefield, 25)

The tenor saxophonist has been hitting a stride of late (check his frenzied eloquence with Matt Wilson’s quartet), and this hat tip to Ayler reveals just how much joy there is in ecstatic undertakings.

6. Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog  (Le Poisson Rouge, 23)

Long story short, they tear shit up, bringing new ideas to older templates. Their spin on the Doors is deadly and their rerouting of the power trio archetype inspired.

7. Erik Friedlander  (Cubana Social, 26)

The cellist’s new Bonebridge  features a fetching band and catchy tunes. This solo recital might distill that approach, with limber lines and sleek writing. He’s quite experienced at enchanting a room all by himself.

8. Elliott Sharp Plays Monk  (Cross Fit Gym, 25)

The experimental guitarist is all about pointed perspectives, and he has quite the novel take on Thelonious’ jewels. Especially “Well, You Needn’t.”

9. Michael Blake, Ben Allison, Rudy Royston  (Kenny’s Castaways, 23) 

After playing a few times a Kush, their freebop definitely has a chemistry. Keep an ear on Blake, who seldom fails to steal the show with his blend of sentiment and storminess.

10. Andrew D’Angelo’s Big Band  (Sullivan Hall, 23)

I only caught their nascent gigs, when things were still coalescing. Word has it that they’ve blossomed into a hard-hitting lot that wax refined while still throwing a few elbows around. And you know the boss likes to throw elbows.

5 Cool Quotes: The Wit and Wisdom of Derek Bailey

Last night, on the way to the Nels Cline/Marc Ribot duet at Le Poisson Rouge, I walked by the apartment that Derek Bailey often stayed in when visiting New York. And it reminded me: the evening’s performance might not be as rich if Bailey hadn’t expanded the language for string instruments during his life.

Turns out that Marc and Nels did offer some of the vocabulary the renowned British improviser helped establish, especially during four acoustic pieces that, as K Leander Williams has mentioned, incorporated “fingerpicking, atmospherics, blues, noise.” Given the fact that this was Cline and Ribot’s debut together, I thought this would be the right time to drop a few nuggets from interviews I did with Bailey throughout the years. The chats took place in the mid-80s. The first is rather relevant.

1. Improvisation is a process that gets relationships sorted out. I’ve brought together people who know each other, but don’t play much together – I like to invite them cold. And the circle of players is getting wider. I like to mix it up. That doesn’t happen in other music as far as I know. Other music is more about having an ideas and polishing them until it dazzles your eyes out. I’ve got to say I don’t understand the unpopularity of improvisation. If I was going out for an evening, I’d choose this stuff.

2. This music can be very serious, but if you take it seriously, it’s a mistake. Improvisation lives under jazz sufferance; most of its visibility comes if a jazz club thinks to throw it in. But I’m one of those people who feel they don’t have any legitimate connection to jazz. I’ve played it in the past, but jazz to me was always something I was looking to get out of. I recognized discomfort there.

3. I still think the most important electric guitarist was Charlie Christian. He changed everything, just like that. My idea of newness is still associated with Christian. Not the way he played, just the fact that he altered everything. That’s something that could happen at any time.

4. I play cliches, too. Obviously they’re less useful. In any given performance, some of the lines are cliched and some aren’t, and a tiny portion are actually new. If everything is going okay, there’s a rejection process that’s taking place; hopefully you’ll recognize cliches as such. [Which isn’t to say] I avoid melodies. In fact, I think I’m playing them all the time. I play a sequence of notes and if it comes out as A-D-E-F-G, it sounds to me like a melody. There are more and more free players playing little songs. The idea that no one in the world of free music plays a melody is pretty outdated.

5. I’ve abandoned solo concerts because I thought I was playing badly. Just left the stage, right in the middle of the show. Part of the problem with playing solo is lack of stimulus. Better to have a partner. The act of playing with other people is important.

Elvis Costello on Marc Ribot

When I first saw Marc with Tom it was as startling a foil role as I’ve ever seen anyone play. When I saw him on stage it reminded me of the relationship between Robbie Robertson and Bob Dylan in the mid 60s.

If you listen to the way Marc plays on Tom’s “Make it Rain” you can hear the Wilson Pickett he’s absorbed. And certainly when he first played in the studio with me on Spike [he brought lots of options to the table]. I was taking something that could have been conventionally arranged, and deliberately juxtaposing conflicting voices in the ensemble while still want it to be coherent. I just wanted it different. I’ve come to realize you can do that, it was just a matter of getting outside of the little blueprint that I started with. Marc helped me do that. 


Nels & Marc: Pink Floyd vs Allman Brothers

Recently had a great chat with Marc Ribot and Nels Cline. It’s the cover story of this month’s DownBeat magazine. We discussed composing to a piece of film, working in the pop realm, and dream projects. I also asked about the weirdest thing they’ve ever seen from the stage. It’s a fun read. A sizable chunk of the Q&A was edited for space reasons, but below is one slashed exchange that I wanted to put out there. I’ll try to post some more extra passages in the next few days. You know Nels is Wilco’ing at the Solid Sound Festival, right? And Marc is playing solo in the burbs  and the Undead JazzFest, and dueting with Henry Grimes at the Vision Festival.

JM: What’s the better guitar freak-out: “Interstellar Overdrive” or “Whipping Post”?

Nels: Oh well, “Interstellar Overdrive.” I love the Allman Brothers, but I don’t think “Whipping Post” is a freak-out. I think Syd Barrett is one of the most underrated guitarists in rock, ever.

Marc: I prefer the guitar interactions on “Careful With that Axe, Eugene.” More subtle, but still gorgeous.

JM: Okay, better melody, Ventures’ “Telstar” or Lonnie Mack’s “Wham”?

Nels: Wow, “Telstar” is pretty great.

Marc: I have to confess my ignorance. I don’t know that Lonnie Mack tune. But I love the Ventures. One of my bands did “Walk, Don’t Run.” I liked the Shadows, too.

Nels: One of the first songs someone tried to teach me was “Penetration.” In California in the 60s you could see the guitars hanging in a rack display at the Thrifty drug store. You could stand there and touch them. They seemed magical. On Saturday afternoons they’d have concerts of cover bands on a flatbed. Big Fender Dual Showman amps. No mics on the amp. Beautiful.

Marc: Outdoors? I’m picturing real surf in the background. Venice Beach.

Nels: More like Culver City in front of a supermarket. But the sound was so exciting. Not punishing. That was start of my sound fixation. That and the radio.


JM: Kermit Driscoll says he has great photo of him and Bill Frisell wearing uniforms while playing in a funk band during the mid-70s in New England.

Marc: That’s brings us into another kind of conversation. Bands we did for bread.

Nels: I have to opt out on that on. I just worked in record stores and played music no one came to listen to.

Marc: That’s an honorable choice.

Nels: It didn’t seem honorable at the time. It seemed weak.

Marc: This is one of the dirty secrets of jazz in the metropolitan area. A lot of the people who tried to play bebop in fact supported themselves by playing weddings. It doesn’t make it into many interviews.

JM: And still do. Not at your age or your level, but many do.

Ribot: Knock on wood, my brother.

Ribot Relaxes

He makes Tom Waits and Elvis Costello records more interesting places; he brings the beauty of Cuban grooves to a place where spirit is paramount; he freaks the fuck out with the kind of wise expressionism that brings you deeper into the squall. Marc Ribot is all about versatility. The guitarist’s approaches to the instrument are many. On the new Silent Movies (Pi), he’s all hush-hush. It’s a solo disc that follows in the footsteps of past triumphs such as Don’t Blame Me and Saints, and it’s wonderfully melodic. As Ribot reflects, his ruminations wax lyrical; almost every phrase glows with a low-key warmth. A Fahey feint here, a Blackshaw flourish there. This time his moves the melodies forward and throws some John Hurt starkness around as well. As the disc plays out, he shows you what’s on his inner silver screen.  He talks to the Voice about a few of the new tunes. Listen to Silent Movies on Rhapsody.