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Marc Ribot’s New York Stories

The guitarist talks about the future of improvised music in NYC and much more

Marc Ribot
Marc Ribot, Le Poisson Rouge; NYC, May 2014 (photo: Alan Nahigian)
Marc Ribot, Chad Taylor and Henry Grimes
Marc Ribot with drummer Chad Taylor and bassist Henry Grimes; NYC, 2014 (photo: Alan Nahigian)
Los Cubanos Postizos
Los Cubanos Postizos, NYC, 2014 (from left): Anthony Coleman, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Marc Ribot, Brad Jones and E.J. Rodriguez (photo: Alan Nahigian)
Ceramic Dog
Ceramic Dog (left to right): Marc Ribot, Shahzad Ismaily and Ches Smith (photo: Cassandra Jenkins)

Guitarist and composer Marc Ribot, best known as a mainstay of New York’s avant-garde scene and for his sideman work with Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Robert Plant and others, leads great bands that are also great ideas for bands. A string of shows in NYC in May, the week before his 60th birthday, hammered that point home. Among the scheduled acts were Ceramic Dog, a noisy, genre-bending avant-rock trio; Los Cubanos Postizos, the party-inciting quintet that douses son music in post-punk vigor; and his free-jazz-inspired trio with drummer Chad Taylor and bassist Henry Grimes, the latter a veteran of groups led by Albert Ayler, one of Ribot’s musical lodestars. Since 2012 that trio has had regular residencies at the Village Vanguard, where they recorded their new Pi label disc, with its expectedly seeking takes on music by Ayler (who recorded with Grimes at the venue in 1966) and John Coltrane.

But that wasn’t all. Ribot also participated in a much-anticipated Round Robin Duets program at the Town Hall and provided live solo acoustic score for the Chaplin classic The Kid at Anthology Film Archives. In an hour-long conversation prior to the Postizos gig at Le Poisson Rouge, he proved a personable and deeply intellectual interview, especially when the subject of the ailing music industry came up. Few, if any, artists have sharper insights related to just compensation in our online age.

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Originally Published

Evan Haga

Evan Haga worked as an editor and writer at JazzTimes from 2006 to 2018. He is currently the Jazz Curator at TIDAL, and his writing has appeared at RollingStone.com, NPR MusicBillboard and other outlets.