Saturday, October 14, 2023

Earshot Jazz presents Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog and The Bad Plus at Town Hall: Oct 14

Marc Ribot has spent nearly four decades as a guitarist on the margins of other songwriter's albums, yet central to their composition and characteristics. The music of Tom Waits, John Zorn, and David Sylvian, have all been enhanced by Ribot's contributions. Ribot's own outfit, Ceramic Dog, has gone some way to bring him into the spotlight. Where Ceramic Dog's first album was what you might expect from a Marc Ribot power-jazz trio; long on vibrant experiment and short on predictable melodic tunes. What came next in the trio of albums , "Your Turn", "YRU Still Here?", and "What I Did On My Long Vacation", released on Northern Spy, an offshoot of the legendary New York label ESP-Disk, described a trajectory toward his own brand of noise rock and more traditional songwriting. Yet as Robert Christgau explains for NPR, "Marc Ribot Isn't Trying to Comfort Anyone", and his mid-2000s albums with Ceramic Dog rank among his most daring pieces of music. Ribot has always been a political artist, this was even in evidence in his earliest outspoken interviews as part of the bridging sounds of the New York jazz and No Wave scenes of the early 1980s, and his time as a member of John Lurie's The Lounge Lizards. He's long been a union activist on behalf of independent musicians, found himself appalled by the Trump presidenc right from the start, and stayed stupefied through the ongoing years of the pandemic. This can all be heard, sometimes in refrained song title references, or at times in explicit lyrics on the odd non-instrumental tracks that comprise "Hope" and "Connection", his two newest albums for Germany's Yellowbird. On all of these works, Ribot has enlisted the percussion flurry of Ches Smith formerly of indie outsiders Xiu Xiu, and Shahzad Ismaily fresh from his recent album "Love in Exile", a recording for the vaunted Verve imprint of glacial pacing and micro-incremental composition. Joining Ceramic Dog for their Earshot Jazz Festival performance in a double-headlining bill, are the bold quartet who are known for a series of wild jazz remodifications of everything from Aphex Twin and David Bowie, to the Pixies, and even "The Bad Plus’ ‘Rite of Spring’ Captured Stravinsky’s Vision". But The Bad Plus aren't just a avant-leaning covers outfit, their original tunes are the most significant quantity of their repertoire. For many years, the outfit was focused around being a piano trio or quartet, initially led by Ethan Iverson, and then later Orrin Evans. With the announcement in 2021 of Evans departure, their new mode features guitarist Ben Monder and tenor saxophonist Chris Speed. The three most recent albums for the Editions label, "Never Stop II", "Activate Infinity", and their 2022 self titled release bridge both of these lineups, and effectively capture the post-Iverson outfit in all their multi-sectioned, often technical puissance.