Thursday, August 27, 2009

Marc Ribot: Questing After Coltrane’s Messy Transcendence

from the article,

He’s after the same thing with Sun Ship, named after an album of similar temperament by John Coltrane. Mr. Ribot unveiled this group in May, during a week of festivities tied to his 55th birthday. It resurfaced on Wednesday night at Rose Live Music in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, drawing largely from the album.

“Sun Ship” was recorded in late August 1965, a time of steep transition for Coltrane. Two months earlier he had made his large-canvas free-jazz album “Ascension.” He still had his quartet, but his music was pulling away from its foundations. On one level “Sun Ship” reflects Coltrane’s attunement to younger saxophonists like Ayler. On another it represents a moment of late grace for his landmark first band. (It was released in 1971, four years after Coltrane’s death.)

Mr. Ribot’s strategy for this music skirts the obvious angles of approach. His Sun Ship features neither tenor saxophone nor piano. Instead he enlists a second guitarist, Mary Halvorson, as well as Jason Ajemian on upright bass and Chad Taylor on drums. He assumes an unambiguous lead voice, as Coltrane did, but his vision for the band descends from multiple stylistic platforms: not just polyrhythmic post-bop but also Cuban music, psychedelic surf-rock, maybe a bit of vintage punk.


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