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DVD/Video/Film Reviews

Marc Ribot: The Lost String

By Published: March 27, 2009
Artist Marc Ribot
The Lost String
La Huit Distribution
2008

Marc Ribot once wanted to sound like jazz guitarist/Blue Note legend Grant Green but, as this film by Anais Prosaic shows, he has gone far beyond jazz in his musical odyssey. His quest, as a player and an innovator, has led him into blues, klezmer music, noise, the avant-garde, classical music, Cuban, instant improvisations and "noise"—all equally part of his artistic nook.

Ribot began learning to play the trumpet when he was nine. However, when he was around 11, he got a guitar, thanks to Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and braces that made it difficult for him to play the trumpet. He studied classical guitar with Frantz Casseues. One of the highlights of the DVD is his beautiful enunciation of the Casseues composition "Dance on Sunday."

After moving to New York City in 1978, Ribot became part of the musical melting pot. He joined the soul/punk band Realtones, who backed Solomon Burke on Soul Alive. From there he went on a long journey, finding his muse with the Lounge Lizards, John Lurie, T-Bone Burnett and Arto Lindsay among others. He also had his own Rootless Cosmopolitans, Shrek and Los Cubanos Postizos.

Ribot reinvented all of his experiences as he experimented with music. During the video he says that it took him a while to get into real improvisation but once he did, some funny things began to come out. Those "funny things" have a raw energy and bite. Like his version of "Motherless Child," on which he changes the countenance of the song through effects and his bristling imagination. One such effect is the tel-ray which "floats electronic signals through a swirling cylinder of toxic chemicals. It was outlawed in the sixties, buy I love it." As we see, it also has opened new vistas for him.

Prosaic includes four solo performances to augment the documentary. Moving through blues and the jazz harmony of "St. James Infirmary" to the noise and electronic effects of "Etude," the country swing of the standard "I'm Confessin'" and the classical "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" the performances succinctly sum up the creative persona that is Marc Ribot.


Tracks: Motherless Child; Banlieues Bleues; Baile Baile Baile; Kadish; Dance on Sunday; It Could Have Been Very Beautiful; Shevet; Yo I Killed Your God; Bury Me Not; Noise; St. James Infirmary; I'm Confessin'; Etude; Recuerdos de la Alhambra.

Personnel: Marc Ribot: guitars; Anthony Coleman: organ; Melvin Gibbs: bass; Bruce Cox: drums; Catherine Janniaux: voice; Christine Bard: percussion; Sim Caine: drums; Ted Reichman: accordion; Ned Rothenberg: bass clarinet; Sebastian Steinberg: bass; Brad Jones: bass; E.J. Rodriguez: percussion; Eddie Bobe: congas; Roberto Rodriguez: drums; Trevor Dunn: bass; Dave Hofstra: bass; Arto Lindsay: guitar.

Production Notes: 82 minutes.



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