Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The "classical" side of Marc Ribot

Guitar proficiency today is just ridiculous, especially with this not-so-new wave of eclecticism, of not restricting oneself to one style of music. People like Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, Nels Cline... are able to jump genres without blinking, whereas others, perhaps more specialized, like Russell Malone, Frank Vignola, John Pizzarelli or Joe Morris and Mary Halvorson are reaching new heights in their art all the time.

All those musicians are just incredible, and you should check them out, either live or on record, and among them a favourite of this blog is Marc Ribot, who turns 60 today.

Ribot has played and recorded as leader and as a sideman, with projects that go from John Zorn's Electric Masada to Alison Krauss & Robert Plant's Raising Sand, or situations like last year's Jazzaldia, where he played with Zorn one day and with Diana Krall on the next. Without being a virtuoso in the conventional sense — although his technique more than serves its purpose — Ribot's taste, touch and indescribably rich, meaty, succulent tone make him a very demanded six-stringer (which helps restore faith in the music scene today, to be frank).

As a child, Ribot was neighbours with noted Haitian guitarist and composer Frantz Casseus, who gave lessons to young Marc. In this article, Ribot talks about his teacher.

Marc Ribot and Frantz Casseus in 1987. Photo by Harriet Ribot.

In return, many years later Ribot recorded an album of Casseus's compositions, Marc Ribot Plays Solo Guitar Works of Frantz Casseus (Les Disques du Crepuscule, Belgium, 1993), a fascinating collection of "classical" guitar music which is now very much out of print and sought after. It is a testimony to Casseus's legacy and to Ribot's dedication to the instrument and the music, and luckily some of it can be heard on line.

This is a playlist I've put together on YouTube:

And it can also be listened to on Grooveshark.

Enjoy, and happy birthday to Mr. Ribot!

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