This week Marc Ribot is in residency at the Stone in New York City, playing six nights in a row with a variety of other performers in addition to some solo sets. I hope at this point that anyone reading this blog doesn’t need an introduction to Ribot since he’s my favorite musician and I write about him all the time 😉 I didn’t think I could deal with writing six blog posts in six days so I’m grouping them into three or four posts that hopefully don’t seem too random. For this first post I’m going to talk about the duo performances in the first few days of the residency, with Marc Ribot performing in tandem with Charles Gayle, Frances-Marie Uitti, Jason Moran, and Roy Nathanson.
We’ve been getting to every show nice and early in order to secure front row seats for the best view:
The first set on the first night was the duo performance with Charles Gayle, who played both upright bass and piano. I hadn’t heard his music before so I came in with no idea what to expect. I think I liked the piano half better (maybe just because I like pianos in general – eight years of lessons leaves a mark!) – overall the set was on the challenging side, which I liked because it was the first set of a six night run and we were all ramped up, excited and ready to listen to anything. This was one of my favorites from that set:
The second set on both the first and second nights was cellist Frances-Marie Uitti. I hadn’t seen her before, but I had been warned by a friend that she doesn’t like people taking videos of her performances, so I don’t have any video footage to share. But they were both amazing sets. Challenging, dynamic, rich, really great stuff. She used a particularly cool technique with two cello bows in one hand, I loved the sounds she coaxed out of the instrument that way. No video, but I did get a photo:
I’ll quote Wikipedia here because whoever wrote that describes this technique a lot better than I can: “Uitti invented a radically extended technique using two bows simultaneously in one hand – being the first to transform the cello into a 4 part chordal instrument. This technique expands the harmonic and timbral possibilities of the instrument in extraordinary ways: for example, one can play simultaneously 4, 3, 2, and 1 string, with contrasting polyrhythmic articulations between the two bows. Non-adjacent strings can also be accessed. One bow can be played near the bridge while the other is near the fingerboard. She has used over 75 different tunings in her compositions using this technique, each producing new harmonic possibilities and exotic timbres plus a polyphony and independence of voices that her previous work with a single curved bow couldn’t obtain.” Musically-uneducated-Sarah says: It’s pretty mind-blowing.
The third duo we saw was with Jason Moran, a pianist who I’ve seen before (with Bill Frisell) and quite liked his style; I was looking forward to seeing what he and Ribot would come up with together. I have a fairly limited exposure to his music but what I’ve heard was more straight-up jazz than the other improvisers we’d seen up to that point. I really enjoyed the whole set, and particularly loved this one piece that I filmed:
I’m pretty sure they’ve never performed together before, but I thought it went well – it was a lot of fun, and probably the easiest of the four pure-improv sets to get into and enjoy.
The final set on the third night was a duo with Roy Nathanson (who you might know from the Jazz Passengers, or from his work back in the day with the Lounge Lizards or Ribot’s own Rootless Cosmopolitans). He brought a very different vibe than the other improvisers had, in large part because he was contributing non-improvised spoken word vocals along with saxophone interludes. I unfortunately didn’t manage to film any of this set, so you’ll have to take my word for it – it was good stuff. The music was less aggressive-improv-chaos than some of the other sets had been, and had some nice bluesy grooves going on here and there. Nathanson is a very animated saxophone player, standing up and rocking back and forth and moving around a lot, which was a stark contrast to Ribot’s intense focus on the guitar, barely glancing up, let alone standing up. The lyrics/poems he recited were a nice contrast to the previous five sets of entirely instrumental music that we’d just seen. (If you’re counting, yes, that means there’s one set I haven’t reviewed yet. That’s coming soon…)
Stay tuned here and on my Youtube channel for further reports from the Ribot residency… there’s a lot more to come!