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Marc Ribot Trio: Live At The Village Vanguard

Mark Corroto By

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It had been 16,631 days since bassist Henry Grimes had last played music at New York's infamous Village Vanguard. His performance, with saxophonist Albert Ayler, on December 18, 1966 was recorded and released as In Greenwich Village (Impulse!, 1967). Back after 45 years, 6 months, and 12 days, the bassist, now part of guitarist Marc Ribot's Trio with drummer Chad Taylor, revisited the musical revolution Ayler instigated in the 1960s.

Ribot's music, since its origins with John Lurie's Lounge Lizards, has utilized Alyer as a touchstone, covering his music as far back as Shrek (Avant, 1994) and the solo recordings Don't Blame Me (DIW, 1995) and Saints (Atlantic, 2001). He formed a quartet to recreate and re-imagine Ayler's music with Grimes, Taylor and trumpeter Roy Campbell, recording Spiritual Unity (Pi, 2005). After the death of Campbell (his Donald Ayler), the project continued as a trio.

This live date from June 12, 2012 is as much about Ayler's influence on the Downtown scene (whose rebirth came about in the 1980s) as it is his sway on the jazz icon John Coltrane. The trio covers two tracks from Coltrane's Sun Ship (Impulse!, 1971), the title track and "Dearly Beloved." Both tracks favor seething cauldrons of free jazz knitted together by the exquisite drumming of Taylor, whose is probably best known for his work in the Chicago Underground Duo with Rob Mazurek. Ribot's guitar plows a country/blues theme on the Ayler tune "The Wizard" that develops, like "Bells," into the Ayler archetypal march. Ribot is able to recreate, on guitar, that frenzy that Ayler could summon and turn into euphoria. The primitive sound that becomes profane.

It is easy to hear bassist William Parker's music in Grimes' bass solos, but of course it was Grimes' recordings with Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Pharoah Sanders, Don Cherry, and Sonny Rollins that influenced Parker's playing.

Besides scorching through the Coltrane and Ayler, they also mercifully surrender to the simple melodies of "Old Man River" and "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)." Ribot's guitar work is unapologetically unrefined and original. His passion, like Ayler's, is amplified by the raw-boned music.

Track Listing: Dearly Beloved; The Wizard; Old Man River; Bells; I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You); Sun Ship.

Personnel: Henry Grimes: bass, violin; Marc Ribot: guitar; Chad Taylor: drums.

Title: Live At The Village Vanguard | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Pi Recordings


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