Marc Ribot

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Rootless Cosmopolitans , 7.5/10
Requiem For What's His Name , 6.5/10
Shrek , 6.5/10
Don't Blame Me , 4/10
Los Cubanos Postizos , 3/10
Muy Divertido, 5.5/10
Saints , 5/10
Scelsi Morning (2003), 6.5/10
Spiritual Unity (2005), 6/10
Exercises in Futility (2008), 5/10
Ceramic Dog: Party Intellectuals (2008), 6/10
Silent Movies (2010), 6/10
Ceramic Dog: Your Turn (2013), 5/10
Ceramic Dog: YRU Still Here? (2018) , 5/10

Marc Ribot, who had played with the Lounge Lizards, John Zorn, Tom Waits, and the Jazz Passengers, demonstrated his fluid style, capable of bridging cacophony and melody in a smooth and swinging manner, on Rootless Cosmopolitans (1990), featuring jazz masters Don Byron on clarinet and Anthony Coleman on keyboards, and one of the few albums to evoke Peter Green's End Of The Game. Ribot's followed that achievement with an irreverent fusion of minimalism, atonal music and jazz on Requiem For What's His Name (1992) and the vehement sonic (and frequently dissonant) verve of Shrek (1994).
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Marc Ribot (originario del New Jersey, studente di chitarra classica sotto il maestro hawaiano Frantz Casseus, dal 1978 a New York come session man per musicisti soul) si mise in luce come chitarrista dei Lounge Lizards dal 1984 al 1988, e come spalla di John Zorn, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello e Jazz Passengers.

I suoni della chitarra di Ribot sono talvolta estremamente cacofonici, ma talaltra danzano liquidi e swinganti. Meglio ancora, spesso passano da un estremo all'altro senza quasi farsene accorgere, ostentando una blasfema continuita' di sensazioni benche' la musica stia diventando sempre piu' dissonante. Il suo maestro riconosciuto e' Albert Ayler.

Il suo primo album solista fu Rootless Cosmopolitans (Island, 1990). Con Don Byron al clarinetto, Anthony Coleman alle tastiere, Richie Schwarz alla batteria e Brad Jones al basso (tutti nomi di grido dell'avanguardia jazz di New York) Ribot ha probabilmente realizzato il primo disco che possa accostarsi al leggendario End Of The Game di Peter Green. Il suo forte sono i brani camaleontici: Shortly After Takeoff si lancia sull'onda di un gran ritmo fanfaresco, scampanella stonata, duetta con il clarinetto in brutture armoniche da far invidia a Captain Beefheart. Cosi' anche gli accostamenti: in Beak Lunch Manifesto un blues dai timbri metallicissimi (all'altra chitarra c'e' Arto Lindsay) viene attizzato dal sassofono grossolano di Roy Nathanson e concluso da un pigolio della chitarra di Ribot che esaspera la slide dei neri.
Il jazz di Friendly Ghosts e' un incrocio fra Mingus e i Lounge Lizards, che ha bisogno del massimo di liberta' formale, tanto delle dissonanze libere quanto dei passi tradizionali. Non manca il senso dello humour, come da manuale dei bohemien newyorkesi da che mondo e' mondo: sono divertimenti nonsense come Cocktail Party, un brano funky in cui il motivo sincopato di chitarra viene ripetuto monotonamente, e Nature Abhors A Vacuum Cleaner, un tema comico che la chitarra "canta" frantumandolo, come separando una nota dall'altra, prima che scompaia nel baccano generale.

Requiem For What's His Name (Crepuscule, 1992), featuring Ralph Carney, Anthony Coleman and others, would be more about high-brow composition than jazz or rock. although his eccentric wit betrays his roots in the age of punk. Requiem For What's His Name is an essay in minimalist repetition a` la Steve Reich disturbed by cabaret-tish dissonance. Disposable Head is a battle between an orthodox swing rhythm section and an atonal guitar, with the other instruments taking the side of one or the other. LaMonte's Nightmare is a surreal tribute to the father of droning minimalism deliverd by a clueless jazz band conducted by Dada in person and inevitably bound to plunge into degenerate cacophony. The glorious Captain Beefheart-ian blues Clever White youths (one of the few songs) is derailed by toy piano, comedian horns and kitchen percussion. The festive street fanfare for marching band First Time Every Time is reminiscent of Lol Coxhill's Welfare State, and the hilarious New is more of the same with just stronger doses of playfulness and craziness. On the other hand, the collective jam I Adolph 12 has no apparent center of mass and lets the musicians celebrate their convivial spirit. The unholy combo even covers Howling Wolf's Commit A Crime and Duke Ellington's Caravan.

Con Requiem For What's His Name (Crepuscule, 1992), accompagnato da Ralph Carney, Anthony Coleman e altri, Ribot compie un passo decisivo nella direzione di diventare un compositore classico, sia quando rivisita il soul delle sue origini sia quando reinventa Duke Ellington. L'influenza di Tom Waits e dei Lounge Lizards e` vistosa (First Time Every Time, Clever White Youth, Commit A Crime) ma spesso Ribot lascia semplicemente svagare la fantasia, e i risultati sono a dir poco imprevedibili (LaMonte's Nightmare, 1 Adolph 12).

Shrek (Avant, 1994) is an album of violent, unfriendly music, that even tries to capture the essence of Albert Ayler's Bells in the context of a combo with two electric guitars. Spigot begins like another minimalist piece in the vein of the Requiem, except that the tone is almost lugubrious (definitely not jovial) and David Shea's sampler adds a jarring cacophonous dimension. There are still hints of Ribot's caustic humor, notably the martial Hoist The Bloody Icon High borrows from Jimi Hendrix's performance of the national anthem. The ten-minute Human Sacrifice invests a lot in Ribot's guitar doodling instead of focusing on the percussive aspect that would turn it into the voodoo ceremony that it only hints at; hence the collective dance sounds rather like a childish nursery rhyme. The highlight of the album is the Glenn Branca-ian guitar tornado of Fourth World. Ribot's stroke of genius is to play it in a "stop and go" fashion, each "stop" being a pretext to restart at a furious, quasi-metal pace. The lengthy dissonant intermezzo of the second half is worth a standing ovation by itself. Shrek reaches even louder and denser heights of neurosis, although framed between a beginning and a coda that are sophisticated in their uncertainty. When it works, this album delivers Ribot at his best. Unfortunately, several pieces sound like filler.

Sounds Of A Distant Episode (Sub Rosa, 1994), an album split with guitarist Fred Frith, contains two his best surrealistic/classical compositions: Lobster Claw Symphonette and The Rise And The Fall Of.

Don't Blame Me (Japan, 1995) is a collection of pop and jazz traditionals given the Ribot treatment.

His virtuoso playing is on display on collaborations such as John Zorn's Book Of Heads (Tzadik, 1995) and Fred Frith's Sounds Of A Distant Episode (Subsonic, 1994) Shoe String Symphonettes (Tzadik, 1997) collects his works for cinema.

Marc Ribot wastes his stellar musicianship in a homage to Cuban composer Arsenio Rodriguez: Los Cubanos Postizos (Atlantic, 1998)

Yo I Killed Your God (Tzadik, 1999) is a live album recorded around the world.

Los Cubanos Postizos' second album, featuring keyboardist Anthony Coleman, is a more liberal take on the Cuban tradition. Muy Divertido (Atlantic, 2000) exploits the new wave of latin dance-music for some unrestrained fun.

Ribot's dance pieces Altogether Different and In As Much As Life Is Borrowed debuted in China and Belgium respectively.

From the title, Saints (Atlantic, 2001) is a tribute to Albert Ayler, of whom Ribot covers three compositions. The rest of the album is a similar display of erudite humility, as Ribot tackles different styles and different authors. As a recital of solo guitar, this is as close to perfection as one can get, but the artistic value is dubious.

Scelsi Morning (Tzadik, 2003) collects dance pieces. The album is mostly austere like none other from Ribot. The only exceptions are the war anthem Bataille, intoned by a distorted guitar amid torrential gongs as well as drunk horns, and the street jig The Youth Brigade Triumphs Again, which inherits the genes of both Albert Ayler and Lol Coxhill.
Ribot's chamber constructs are actually quite intriguing. Earth juxtaposes mindblowing guitar feedback, timpani-like percussion, rattling bells and sinister electronica. Scelsi Morning is a truly Scelsi-an movement for clarinet, pump organ, strings and bass. Identity I-Shmentity is a somber threnody for accordion and didjeridu-like drones that guitar and percussion try in vain to upset. The artistic peak (not only of this album) is the 12-minute Geese for clarinet, accordion, pump organ, violin, viola and guitar, that alternates brief minimalist repetitions, anguished counterpoint, Fred Frith-ian dissonance and traces of melodies. Ribot's guitar is often irrelevant.

Soundtracks II (Tzadik, 2003) is basically the second part of Shoe String Symphonettes.

Spiritual Unity (Pi, 2005) is an explicit tribute to Albert Ayler Not only does Ribot employ Ayler's original bassist Henry Grimes and set up a similar backing (Chad Taylor on drums and Roy Campbell on trumpet), but he plays his guitar in such a manner as to simulate as much as possible Ayler's saxophone (and even violin and cello). It is both a sincere tribute to his master and a virtuoso show of a guitarist who can use the guitar like a universal instrument. After Ribot's Invocation, four tracks reenact (more than merely cover) four Ayler classics, interpreting the spirit of Ayler's ritual jazz while retaining Ribot's unique post-modernist elegance.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Michele Mulas)

Shrek (Avant, 1994) è un album di musica violenta, ostile, che prova a catturare l'essenza dello stile di Albert Ayler nel contesto di un ensamble che ruota attorno alla chitarra. Le cacofoniche Spigot e Shrek, la dissonante Fourth World, l'angolosa Big Money, e la marziale Hoist The Bloody Icon High portano avanti un incessante assalto sonico che vale quello dell'hardcore.

Sounds Of A Distant Episode (Sub Rosa, 1994), split album con il chitarrista Fred Frith, contiene due tra le sue migliori composizioni tra il classico e il surrealistico: Lobster Claw Symphonette e The Rise And The Fall Of.

Don't Blame Me (Japan, 1995) è una collezione di standard pop e jazz passati attraverso il “trattamento Ribot”.

Il suo virtuosismo fa mostra di sè in collaborazioni come Book Of Heads (Tzadik, 1995) di John Zorn e Sounds Of A Distant Episode (Subsonic, 1994) di Fred Frith. Shoe String Symphonettes (Tzadik, 1997) colleziona i suoi lavori per il cinema.

Marc Ribot spreca il suo stellare talento musicale in un omaggio al compositore cubano Arsenio Rodriguez: Los Cubanos Postizos (Atlantic, 1998).

Yo I Killed Your God (Tzadik, 1999) è un album registrato dal vivo in giro per il mondo.

Il secondo album dei Cubanos Postizos, con la presenza del tastierista Anthony Coleman, offre uno ripresa più libera della tradizione cubana. Muy Divertido (Atlantic, 2000) sfrutta la new-wave della musica da ballo latina per un pò di instancabile divertimento.

I balletti di Ribot Altogether Different e In As Much As Life Is Borrowed hanno debuttato rispettivamente in Cina e Belgio.

Fin dal titolo Saints (Atlantic, 2001) è un tributo ad Albert Ayler, del quale Ribot ripropone tre composizioni. Il resto dell'album vede un grande dispiego di erudita umilità nell'approccio di Ribot a differenti stili e autori. Come un recital per sola chitarra, questo rappresenta il punto più vicino alla perfezione a cui si possa ambire, ma il valore artistico resta dubbio.

Scelsi Morning (Tzadik, 2003) raccoglie piece per balletti, incluso uno dei capolavori di Ribot: i 12 minuti dissonanti e minimalisti di Geese, per fisarmonica, organo chiesistico, violino, viola, clarinetto e chitarra. Soundtracks II (Tzadik, 2003) è in pratica la seconda parte di Shoe String Symphonettes.

Spiritual Unity (Pi, 2005) è un esplicito tributo ad Albert Ayler. Non solo Ribot ingaggia Henry Grimes, il bassista originale di Ayler, e allestisce una formazione analoga alla sua (Chad Taylor alla batteria e Roy Campbell alla tromba), ma suona la sua chitarra in modo tale da richiamare per quanto possibile il sassofono di Ayler (nonchè il violino e il violoncello). L'album rappresenta sia un sincero tributo al suo maestro che uno spettacolo virtuosistico di un chitarrista che è in grado di usare la chitarra come uno strumento universale. Dopo Invocation di Ribot, quattro tracce riportano in scena (più che darne una mera versione calligrafica) quattro classici di Ayler, interpretando lo spirito del rituale jazz di Ayler e conservando l'eleganza post-moderna di Ribot.

The title of Exercises in Futility (Tzadik, 2008) is accurate: Ribot spends an hour experimenting with relatively gentle and simple technicalities. This catalog of guitar etudes sounds like his artistic testament.

Party Intellectuals (Pi, 2008), credited to Ceramic Dog, a trio with bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Ches Smith of Secret Chiefs 3, is divided in short pieces that amount to a lightweight version of Ribot's postmodernist approach to musical conventions (distorting and deconstructing popular styles) and in longer pieces of abstract soundpainting relying on group improvisation and textural strokes (Digital Handshake, Midost, When We Were Young and We Were Freaks). The latter subtly juxtapose techniques learned from several decades of jazz, rock and electronic music.

Silent Movies (2010) collects film pieces for solo guitar subtly overdubbed by Keefus Ciancia on electronics. The main attractions are Natalia In E Flat Major, an elegy for agonizing glissandoes, Delancey Waltz, a pensive melody performed with neoclassical grace, Fat Man Blues, one of Ribot's best imitations of country blues, Postcard From N.Y., the best of the "folktronica" pieces, that begins with an electronic nebula but it is a simple guitar meditation, but mostly these are slow pieces played too self-consciously.

Ceramic Dog's Your Turn (Northern Spy, 2013), with the delirious Your Turn and Ritual Slaughter, and YRU Still Here? (Northern Spy, 2018) spanned a broader stylistic territory, heavy on keyboards and samples, but the songs and instrumentals stuck to more conventional formats. Quoting one of his titles, "exercises in futility".

Ribot also joined John Zorn's Dreamers, a concept that recorded heroic stylistic messes like Dreamers (Tzadik, 2008), O'o (february 2009), and Pellucidar - A Dreamers Fantabula (Tzadik, 2015).

The live Nearness And You (june 2015) documents the acoustic septet of the Jazz Passengers' Roy Nathanson (alto, soprano & baritone saxes, vocals), Arturo O'Farrill, Anthony Coleman and Myra Melford (all on piano), Marc Ribot (acoustic guitar), and Curtis Fowlkes and Lucy Hollier (trombones).

The guitar trio of Elliott Sharp, Mary Halvorson and Marc Ribot recorded Err Guitar (july 2016).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Carmine De Matteis)

Il titolo Exercises in Futility (Tzadik, 2008) è accurato: Ribot trascorre un’oretta sperimentando con tecnicismi relativamente molli e semplicistici. Un catalogo di studi per chitarra che suona come il suo testamento artistico.

Party Intellectuals (Pi, 2008), a nome Ceramic Dog – un trio composto dal bassista Shahazad Isamily e dal batterista Ches Smith dei Secret Chiefs 3, - si divide fra brani corti che riecheggiano dell’approccio post-modernista del Ribot piu’ annacquato alle convenzioni musicali (in pratica distorcere e decostruire) e fra brani piu’ lunghi di pittura-sonora astratta basati sull’improvvisazione di gruppo e su colpi strutturali. (Digital HandshakeMidostWhen We Were Young and We Were Freaks). Tecniche sottili di giustapposizione sonora imparate nel corso di decenni di jazz, rock e musica elettronica.

Silent Movies (2010) colleziona piccoli films per assoli di chitarra leggermente rimaneggiati in chiave elettronica da Keefus Ciancia. Attrazione principale resta Natalia In E Flat Major, un’elegia per glissando agonizzanti, Delancey Waltz, melodia riflessiva eseguita con grazia neoclassica, Fat Man Blues, una delle migliori imitazioni di country-blues fatta da Ribot,  Postcard From N.Y., il migliore fra i pezzi di “folktronica” – dapprima nebulosa elettronica, in realtà una meditazione per chitarra alquanto semplice – in soldoni, abbiamo a che fare con brani lenti eseguiti con troppa autoconsapevolezza.

Your Turn (Northern Spy, 2013) – ancora Ceramic Dog – esplora un territorio stilistico piu’ variegato, piu’ incisivo in termini di tastiere e campionamenti, ma abbastanza convenzionale per quanto riguarda canzoni e arrangiamenti.

The Dreamers ritornano con un altro eroico caos stilistico, Pellucidar - A Dreamers Fantabula (Tzadik, 2015).

Il live Nearness And You (june 2015) ci rende contezza del settetto acustico dei Jazz Passengers' Roy Nathanson (sax alto, sax soprano & sax baritono piu voce), Arturo O'Farrill, Anthony Coleman and Myra Melford (tutti al pianoforte), Marc Ribot (chitarra acustica), con Curtis Fowlkes e Lucy Hollier (tromboni).

Il trio chitarristico di Elliott Sharp, Mary Halvorson e Marc Ribot registra Err Guitar (july 2016).

Seb El Zin (guitar, vocals), Mike Ladd (vocals), Arto Lindsay (guitar), Marc Ribot (guitar) formed Anarchist Republic of Bzzz, documented on Anarchist Republic of Bzzz (2009) and United Diktaturs of Europe (2016).

Songs of Resistance 1942-2018 (2018) collects covers of political songs from World War II to the Donald Trump era.

Ceramic Dog released the six-song mini-album What I Did On My Long Vacation (2020) and the full-length Hope (2021). The latter contains the anemic dirge B-Flat Ontology and the neurotic, Neil Young-esque, ten-minute jam The Long Goodbye.

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