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Funk - Released January 22, 2016 | Yellowbird Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
Rootless Cosmopolitans was guitarist Marc Ribot's early and quixotic stab at commercial semi-success, a quasi-rock band filtered through free jazz and noise. Clarinetist Don Byron shares the lead instrumental work with Ribot and the two, backed by the imaginative keyboards of Anthony Coleman, certainly make for a unique ensemble sound, far more thorny than your standard rock fare. They do include covers of a couple of boomer classics, Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" (featuring a harsh backing of Ribot's disaffected vocals) and a solo Ribot rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Indeed, harshness, even a certain sourness, is one of the abiding qualities of this disc. Fans who know Ribot from the beautiful surf-inspired tones he generates in his work with John Zorn on both the latter's soundtracks and in the Bar Kokhba ensemble won't find such dulcet sounds here. Some cuts, like "The Cocktail Party," get into a bit of a Captain Beefheart-ian mode, others are reminiscent of Ornette Coleman's Prime Time groups. Led by Coleman's spacy organ, the group gels in a pleasantly incoherent manner on "Nature Abhors a Vacuum Cleaner" and Byron, on bass clarinet, leads them through a tender reading of "Mood Indigo." There is a decent amount of enjoyable music here, but it's hit and miss, very much a grab-bag affair. All of the musicians involved went on to do finer work later in their careers, though, so what value Rootless Cosmopolitans retains tends toward the historical. © Brian Olewnick /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 5, 1998 | Atlantic Records

The mastery and vision of the enduring Marc Ribot shine through on this release. Although there have been many attempts to produce authentic indigenous music of various cultures, most have fallen short; this album succeeds in the wake of failure. Ribot delves deep into Cuban rhythms, and indeed the album is a tribute to the Cuban master Arsenio Rodriguez. Here Ribot finds an authentic Cuban sound employing traditional instrumentation: upright bass, wood blocks, cherke, and other percussion sounds. The performance is inspired, and the band consistently tears through Rodriguez's material, as well as some of their own. Ribot's guitar work nears perfection, and he proves himself to be the most soulful white alive. Songs like "Aqui Como Alla" and "Postizo" confirm these assertions. Although this album does not present the iconoclastic Ribot of The Book of Heads fame, it is an excellent album. © Marc Gilman /TiVo
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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released July 31, 1992 | Knockwurst Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 14, 2018 | Anti - Epitaph

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Classical - Released March 2, 1993 | Knockwurst Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 14, 2000 | Atlantic Records

Regrouping his Latin backing band Los Cubanos Postizos, Marc Ribot offers a sequel to his 1998 Arsenio Rodriguez tribute The Prosthetic Cubans in Muy Divertido! ("very entertaining"). While there are once again a few songs penned by Rodriguez, there's also a greater variety of composers represented, including three Ribot originals. Ribot's angular, visceral guitar style adds rock drive and avant-garde edge to these deep Latin grooves, and Anthony Coleman's spacy organ work adds a playfully strange texture to some tracks. Overall, it's a worthy follow-up for anyone who enjoyed the first installment. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 6, 2017 | Pi Recordings

On his third recording for the indie Pi Recordings imprint -- home to some of the more exciting jazz recordings in the 21st century -- guitarist Marc Ribot takes yet another turn in his prolific career. Silent Movies is a collection of 13 solo guitar pieces, recorded in complete takes with minimal sonic atmospherics added in overdub. The album was partially inspired by his experience of playing live as accompanist to a screening of Charlie Chaplin's film The Kid. Some of these tunes were composed for Natalia Almada's documentary El General and others for Drunk Boat (unreleased). This is mostly the deeply melodic side of Ribot. These utterly lovely works (all written by the guitarist save for the album's final track) ask questions -- often delicately, always deliberately -- about the mysterious element that creates image from sound in the mind of a listener. While there isn't a dull moment here, there is a certain kind of reverie that is evoked in the hearing. Even at its most animated, such as on the flamenco-inspired "Flicker," the self-evidently titled "Fat Man Blues," or the two-minute feedback-laden introduction to "Postcard from N.Y." (which gives way to one of the most haunting melodic works here), there is a sense of space surrounding this music that is arresting in focus and even stillness. "Requiem for a Revolution" employs a gentle sense of dissonance that creates a mood juxtaposition, one that evokes idealism, pragmatism, and authoritarianism. "The Kid" touches on jazz, classical music, Chaplin's compositions, and even Nino Rota's more humorous moments. The set's final cut, "Sous le Ciel de Paris," is the title song to Julien Duvivier's film of the same name and was a hit for Edith Piaf. Ribot employs both elegance and a specific rawness (not in technique but in the physicality of the guitar's sound) to get at the emotion in the melody as sung by the great vocalist. He doesn't so much re-create it as expand its range of color and texture, even when it gives way to restrained sonic textures and white noise as the album whispers to a close. For those interested in one of the more compelling and quietly provocative and graceful guitar records of 2010, Silent Movies is well worth seeking out. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 5, 2017 | Pi Recordings

It might be more concise to list what musical genres Marc Ribot hasn't explored than the ones he has, but his approach to the guitar has often reflected the freedom, reinvention, and elastic boundaries of jazz, no matter what the specific context. On this date, recorded in mid-2012 during a handful of shows at one of New York's most iconic venues, Ribot gives himself the luxury of stretching out with a pair of gifted accompanists, bassist Henry Grimes (who worked with Albert Ayler, one of Ribot's key influences) and drummer Chad Taylor (a veteran of the Chicago Underground Duo and Trio), and the result is one of Ribot's most explicitly jazz-focused dates in some time. Live at the Village Vanguard certainly embraces Ribot's particular tastes in jazz, featuring two Ayler compositions ("The Wizard" and "Bells") as well as two pieces recorded by John Coltrane ("Sun Ship" and "Dearly Beloved") and a pair of old standards ("Old Man River" and "I'm Confessin' [That I Love You]"). In the grand tradition of the genre, the key here is the interplay between the musicians, not simply the bandleader, though the sharp report of Ribot's tone and the volleys of notes he fires off during the more extreme passages will sound more than familiar to anyone acquainted with his work. On the standards, Ribot, Grimes, and Taylor may seem relaxed, but they dig deep into the melodies and find rich, expressive treasure despite the deceptively accessible surfaces. And as the trio explores the selections from Coltrane and Ayler's songbooks, the communication between the players is total, with each in full flight as individuals and as a group, honoring the masters and finding a voice of their own at the same time. The great free jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock once quipped that he didn't consider himself a guitarist, but a sax player with a very messed-up horn; Live at the Village Vanguard suggests a bit of the same thinking lurks inside Mark Ribot, but in spite of that, he and his axe seem to be getting along just fine. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 5, 2017 | Pi Recordings

Albert Ayler compositions have been in Marc Ribot's book for many years, so it shouldn't really be a surprise that he put together a band to play Ayler tunes. However, when Ribot started playing Ayler songs he couldn't have dreamed that he'd be playing them with Henry Grimes, the original bass player on a number of Ayler's seminal mid-'60s recordings (Grimes walked away from music in 1967 and remained out of sight until 2002). Rounding out the group are Roy Campbell on trumpet and Chad Taylor on drums and percussion. The album is called Spiritual Unity, but it's not a direct cover of Ayler's Spiritual Unity album. In fact, Ribot's band only tackles one song from that particular album, "Spirits." Actually, although they do play Ayler's music, the band's mission statement says it's not about performing the tunes by rote, it's about seeking "a ritual process, through improvisation." To that end, although it sounds remarkably like an Ayler tune, "Invocation" is actually a group improvisation offered before the Ayler material. When they do get to that material, they work much like Ayler's quartets did, moving quickly from the head into fiery collective improvisation. This is free jazz to be sure, but Ayler's free jazz was grounded in marches and gospel music and those elements can come to the surface even during the roiling improvisations. Henry Grimes is remarkable. His ideas never seem to slow down and it's nearly incomprehensible that he didn't touch a bass for three decades. Chad Taylor has long been known as a supportive drummer and Ribot and Campbell's work probably needs no introduction. They operate here as a unit, not a collection of soloists, and they honor Ayler's musical process as much as the man or his compositions. Ayler's time on earth was far too short, but Ribot and company show that this music still lives on in the present moment, not simply as a relic of the past. Spiritual Unity isn't for the timid, but Ayler fans will find a lot to enjoy. © Sean Westergaard /TiVo