Widely regarded as one of today's most inventive and adventurous guitarists, MARC RIBOT re-assembles his celebrated CUBANOS POSTIZOS (that is, fake Cubans) for his much-anticipated second Atlantic album, MUY DIVERTIDO! (VERY ENTERTAINING). A leading light of New York City's downtown scene, Ribot initially made a name for himself through indelible road and studio work with Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithfull, and Tom Waits - most recently on the smoky baritone troubadour's MULE VARIATIONS album and tour.
With a guitar style defined by its edgy and electric tones, punky and loose attitude, Ribot formed Los Cubanos Postizos which includes bassist BRAD JONES of the Jazz Passengers and Ornette Coleman's Prime Time; Jazz Passenger percussionist E.J. RODRIGUEZ and drummer ROBERT J. RODRIGUEZ of Miami Sound Machine; in February, 1997, and immediately began a regular live schedule. From the start, the ensemble built their repertoire around songs associated with legendary Cuban composer and big band leader Arsenio Rodriguez (1911-1972). Famed for his skillful playing of the tres, the three-stringed guitar so central to the Cuban sound, Rodriguez was a superstar of the Latin music scene during the Forties and early Fifties.
In 1998, Ribot was the subject of effusive critical praise upon the release of MARC RIBOT Y LOS CUBANOS POSTIZOS, his Atlantic debut. Amongst a flurry of glowing notices, the album was voted as one of 1998's "Essential Albums" in Rolling Stone. CMJ New Music Monthly weighed in, calling the debut "a scorching record, one that deserves to be heard by Latin purists, guitar freaks, and jazz geeks alike." Jazziz declared the tracks "some of the scruffiest, most deliciously different Cuban music you're likely to hear." The magazine went on to say of Ribot, "Among guitar heroes, count Marc Ribot as one who isn't afraid of the rough stuff. He has facility on his instrument but doesn't let that get in the way of a good time. He manhandles the strings more than massages them, bumping into odd variations on a harmonic theme, savoring every blue note"
With the guitarist's ninth album, Los Cubanos Postizos have added new member keyboardist ANTHONY COLEMAN the downtown leading light known for recordings with John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, and Gary Lucas, along with his own work as a member of both the Sephardic Tinge and the Selfhaters. In fact it was Coleman who first introduced Ribot to the music of Rodriguez some seven years ago.
Marking a further evolution from the motivating inspiration of Arsenio Rodriguez, the new album sees the group finding their voice, moving towards an expression uniquely their own; a fortuitous by-product of their ongoing performances at New York City's Knitting Factory. Special guests rounding out the studio cast include bassist/producer J.D. Foster (Dwight Yoakam), keyboardist Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello, Madness, Squeeze), and singer/actress Eszter Balint (Stranger Than Paradise, Trees Lounge), who supplies her cool, expressive vocals to such tracks as the spirited "Dame Un Cachito." Together, the MUY DIVERTIDO! crew brings a bright, effervescent quality to Los Cubanos Postizos sound, one defined more than ever by a flavorful rock influence and complementing bi-lingual vocal passages. With a stripped-down sound centered around guitar, bass, conga, and keyboard, the album moves nimbly from such tracks as the ironic hometown "tribute" of "Lomas De New Jersey" (The Hills Of New Jersey); to the cool and sublime "El Gaucho"; and the buoyant, organ-propelled "Como." Improvisational, unexpectedly playful, and vibey, yet notably unyielding, the new album is perhaps the guitarist's most accessible work to date.
As Ribot explains, Los Cubanos Postizos was launched purely for the fun of it: "I thought I'd get a couple of my friends together and get a gig in a bar playing old Cuban tunes. And that's basically what we did, except that on our third gig, we got signed to Atlantic. I could no doubt go back and find a deep conceptual reason for this project, but in fact, that's the way it developed." Ribot is adamant that the band not be regarded as an "authentic" simulation of classic Cuban music. Rather, the bandleaders intent at homage is right up front in the group's humorously straightforward moniker. "I like to announce my intentions right in the title," Ribot notes with a grin. "I don't want to present this as a work of scholarship or make any claims to authenticity. This is my usage of Cuban music, of the music of Arsenio Rodriguez and some other Cuban musicians."
That said, MUY DIVERTIDO! mirrors American musicians' continuing interest in the rhythmic musical heritage of Cuba and its extraordinary influence upon our own idiom. "Let me just express my dismay at the fact that this turned out to be trendy," Ribot laughs. "But I think there's a common cause. A lot of great archival Cuban music compilations became available in the U.S. starting in the early 90s, and its natural that musicians would pick up on that. "What's quite beautiful about now," Ribot goes on, "is that twenty or thirty years ago only musicologists had access to all of this sort of world music material. Now anybody can get it at Tower."
Marc Ribot (pronounced REE-bow) was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1954. As a teen, he played guitar in various garage bands while studying with his mentor, the Haitian classical guitarist and composer Frantz Casseus. In 1978, Ribot crossed the river to New York City, where he served as sideman for such musicians as jazz organist Jack McDuff and legendary soul shouter Wilson Pickett. The following year, Ribot joined up with the Realtones and the Uptown Horns Band, which worked as a NYC pickup band for such Stax/Volt stars as Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Solomon Burke and many others. Ribot began his five year stint as a member of the Lounge Lizards John Lurie's innovative and influential Downtown jazz ensemble in 1984. His six-string stylings, which blended elements of classicist Blues guitar with an ironic No Wave/Knitting Factory aesthetic, caught the ear of a number of artists who were also interested in amalgamating and disrupting disparate musical traditions. Ribot went on to perform on some of these singer/songwriters finest moments, including Elvis Costello's SPIKE, MIGHTY LIKE A ROSE, and KOJAK VARIETY; Marianne Faithfull's BLAZING AWAY; and, most notably, Tom Waits RAIN DOGS, BIG TIME, FRANK'S WILD YEARS, and the new MULE VARIATIONS. All the while, the increasingly in-demand guitarist continued to explore the ever-changing terrain of New York's New Music, working with such musicians as Arto Lindsay, Don Byron, Elliott Sharp, Anthony Coleman, T-Bone Burnett, the Jazz Passengers, Evan Lurie, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Chocolate Genius, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and John Zorn in any number of incarnations. Ribot also composed and recorded his own brand of Downtown soul music with his bands, Rootless Cosmopolitans and Shrek, as well under his own name. His 1996 DON'T BLAME ME, which found a solo Ribot reinventing a number of American standards, was hailed by The Village Voice's Gary Giddins as "a record filled with savory and unlikely amusements."
In recent years, Ribot's always-eclectic workload has included sessions with Cibo Matto, the late Allen Ginsberg, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio's Surrender To The Air project, Atlantic recording artist Madeleine Peyroux (found on her 1996 DREAMLAND), and Patty Scialfa on her forthcoming solo album. Ribot also continues to do a great deal of work with Zorn, having played on his FILMWORKS collections, and as a member of his Bar Kochba ensemble. Meanwhile, Ribot's score for Yoshiko Chuma's "Altogether Different" dance piece made its debut in January with Chuma's performance at New York City's Joyce Theatre. In addition to his score for the forthcoming documentary film, Joe Schmo, the guitarist's score for "In As Much As Life Is Borrowed," a new dance piece from famed Belgian choreographer Wim Vanderkeybus, will make its debut in April in Antwerp, Belgium before heading out on an extensive tour of Europe and North America.
"Exceptionally moody and evocative, a very cool record."
- CMJ New Music Report
"This is an intimate and highly communicative album that, for many listeners, will reveal new and fascinating facets of guitar playing."
- CD Now
"With his biting and twangy electric and acoutic plectral tones, Ribot turns well-known tunes into spacey, left-of-center sound collages full of bite and humor....bold, six-stringed excursions into uncharted sonic territory."
"Saints has a certain folksy charm to it, with familiar songs given an unfamiliar spin. The great value comes in hearing a virtuoso play in an unvirtuosic way, turning songs inside out, while somehow getting at their essences...with relatively quiet, fractured renditions that force one to reimagine songs."
"Ribot found a unique way to wrench these compositions out from the grip of history and make them his own."
- Chicago Tribune
"Mr. Ribot is a deceptively articulate artist who uses inarticulateness as an expressive device."
- The New York Times
"One of the most individual of guitarists and a master of introverted ironies...a stunning new solo album."
- The Village Voice
"Like Thelonius, Ribot knows just how and when to play the right wrong notes. What on paper could appear as a mawkishly sentimental bunch of songs turns out to be nothing short of a triumph. Saints is a magnificent solo guitar outing guaranteed to satisfy the fans but with enough substance to stand the test of time."
- Signal to Noise
"Idiosyncratic and mesmerizing solo recitals...every taut and quivering string is beautifully recorded. Never a dull moment."
- Gary Giddins, The Village Voice
Praise for Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos:
"A brave and beautiful record from a musician who isn't afraid to explore extremes of prettiness and ugliness, or to draw parallels between them."
- Guitar Player
"Ribot's celebration of Rodriguez's legacy is distinguished by informed guts and understated grace. In its soulful warmth and tart guitar invention, this record is everything - bright, daring, alive..."
- Rolling Stone
"At every turn, Ribot dazzles with both his urbanity and his radical streak, creating a wonder of otherworldly Cuban soul."
- Guitar Magazine
"...Ribot's playing is so tasteful and understated... From the cool improvisations of 'Aqui Como Alla' to the slow burning fire of 'Fiesta en el Solar', the album is as refreshing as a rum drink on a hot afternoon."
- Baltimore Sun
"What distinguishes this disk from other Cubanismo collections is Ribot's mix of the soft and sultry with the hard-edged and rocking. The result is a triumphant fiesta that bears repeated spins."
- San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle
"...this tasty Cuban project finds him at his eclectic and unpredictable best, delivering gorgeous melodies and energized solos with equal effect."
- Austin American-Statesman
"It's steamy and sexy, sometimes slightly kooky, but cool and understated (and respectful of the music)--all at the same time. Ribot's guitar playing is precise yet warm..."
"...Ribot's playing is intelligent, fluid and particularly emotive."
- Guitar World
"...never before has Mr. Ribot's guitar playing been more choppily arresting."
- New York Times
"They sound as if they're waving a flag, declaring their prostheticness as something glorious and authentic. And it is."
- New York Times New York Today