Marc Ri­bot

Mojo (UK) - - What Goes On! -

The gui­tar al­chemist gen­u­flects be­fore the Al­bert Ayler Quin­tet’s Live At Slug’s Sa­loon May 1, 1966 (Base, 1982)

It was the mid-’80s. I was play­ing in the Lounge Lizards, liv­ing on East 16th Street in New York. I was play­ing com­po­si­tions that were to do with har­mon­ics, they sounded kind of like bu­gle calls. And [NY pi­anist] An­thony Cole­man said, “You should lis­ten to Al­bert Ayler’s Bells.” I knew he was part of the pan­theon of jazz ge­niuses, and very con­tro­ver­sial, but I’d never done a close lis­ten. Then I did. And I’ve been do­ing that ever since. When I put the al­bum on it was, “Oh yeah… all right.” I wasn’t analysing it – it was an arte­fact of a very in­tense quasire­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence, like you’re stand­ing in the back of a room in which there’s a strange rit­ual go­ing on, you hear a chicken squawk and see a bloody knife, and you’re not sure what go­ing on but you’re cer­tain some­thing is! Ayler was in­flu­enced by bu­gle calls, church mu­sic, hymns. The first part is a hymn, but what it’s pray­ing for is what hap­pens when the song pro­gresses. It’s like a div­ing board into some­thing else, the chords come at you a mile a minute. It’s a vir­tu­oso/in­tel­lec­tual/ phys­i­cal feat. It was the miss­ing link between jazz and punk rock and made me un­der­stand ev­ery­thing I most needed from both. It made me un­der­stand that mu­sic can be a rit­ual in which mu­si­cians and au­di­ence en­gage, and how it can take peo­ple up and put them down in a dif­fer­ent place. You have to have lis­tened to the stuff that came be­fore it, and to have reached a point of frus­tra­tion, in or­der for it to feel nec­es­sary. When I lis­ten to it I find it in­cred­i­bly funny and ten­der, with the de­sire for hon­esty and rev­e­la­tion. One thing Al­bert Ayler gives me is courage. Some­thing clicked when I heard it. Be­fore that I didn’t know what I was gonna do. And af­ter that, I did know.

Marc Ri­bot’s Songs Of Re­sis­tance 1942-2018 is out on Septem­ber 14 on ANTI-.

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