Marc Ribot: Spiritual Unity (2005)
Spiritual Unity is the latest effort by versatile virtuoso guitarist/composer Marc Ribot since Saints, from four years ago. He takes this opportunity to explore the legacy of Albert Ayler, one of the giants of free jazz. The new unit he gathered for this occasion, featuring drummer Chad Taylor, trumpeter Roy Campbell, and the legendary bassist Henry Grimes, with whom Ayler recorded some of his seminal recordings during the '60s, is as multitalented and flexible as the leader himself.
John Zorn, who twenty years ago was part of a young generation of avant-garde musicians, took the music of another musician (Morricone) and infused it with the sound of his time. Similarly, Marc Ribot has brought the music of Albert Ayler into the modern age. This meeting of minds and eras kicks off with Ribot's tribute composition "Invocation," where he reveals the powerful influence that Ayler's music has had on his music.
This release is full of standout jaw-dropping performances, and it sounds as if these four guys were having a great time jamming together while seamlessly churning out ear-opening examples of sheer brilliance and virtuosity. Instead of following in Ayler's footsteps by playing the original compositions note by note, the band delivers a barrage of sounds that encompasses the emotional depth, rawness, imperfection, and passion that typified Ayler's work.
The music here is truly on the edge, and although this is not the first time that Ribot has paid tribute to Ayler (he covered tunes on his last two albums, Saints and Don't Blame Me), this is the recording that he has totally devoted to Ayler's principles. Like all those great improvisational albums, it rewards the patient listener who is willing to open his mind to new sounds. To me, this is the way tribute albums should always be.
Track Listing: Invocation; Spirits; Truth Is Marching In; Saints; Bells.
Personnel: Marc Ribot: guitar; Roy Campbell: trumpets; Henry Grimes: double bass; Chad Taylor: drums.