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What Spiritual Unity seeks is a ritual process, through improvisation, of experiencing and presenting the rawest moment of musical creation. To experience this performance is to participate in a ritual; to be caught up in the crowded room of sacrifice, knowing that something immediate and important is happening. What this process leaves behind in recordings aren't primarily aesthetic objects, but archeological traces proof that even in the post-everything world, something is possible.
Spiritual Unity unites the most dynamic young drummer of the Chicago scene (Chad Taylor, Chicago Underground), musicians seasoned in NYC's free-improv, no-wave, post/punk, new music and jazz scenes (guitarist Marc Ribot and trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr.) and the bassist for many of Albert Ayler's seminal recordings of the '60s, the immortal Henry Grimes.
Spiritual Unity unites the energy and influences of all these histories into a search for common language of creation. It unites the ritual power of "rock" and "jazz" through a tradition that has always existed in the margins of both. It unites the voice of the electric guitar with the sax-driven free jazz tradition. It unites people in the memory of a musical past, and the belief in a future. If that's not spiritual unity, what is?
Marc Ribot s recordings for Atlantic with Los Cubanos Postizos sold over 60,000 copies. Albert Ayler s music has been rediscovered recently due to the release of a nine-CD box set on Revenant. First recorded release of Henry Grimes revisiting the music that helped to establish him some three decades ago. Ribot has recently recorded and toured with Tom Waits and is well recognized for his work with John Zorn, Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithfull and The Lounge Lizards.
Mr. Ribot is a deceptively articulate artist who uses inarticulateness as an expressive device. --The New York Times
Exceptionally moody and evocative, a very cool record. --Cmj
Top Customer Reviews
From Tom Waits and Elvis Costello to the Lounge Lizards and John Zorn, Ribot is the consummate Downtown scenester. Following his muse from the early "fake-jazz" of his own Rootless Cosmopolitans to exploring Afro-Cuban rhythms with his Los Cubanos Postizos, Ribot has always had an ear for the primal. Shrek was Ribot's early attempt to translate the energetic qualities of Ayler's passionate acoustic free jazz sensibilities to an electric guitar ensemble. With "Spiritual Unity" Ribot has assembled a quartet that not only mirrors Ayler's own classic quartet line-ups, but even features an original member.
With Henry Grimes, Ayler's original bassist, "Spiritual Unity" has a link to the past that provides a solid conceptual as well as sonic foundation. Despite Grimes' decades long hiatus from performing, he sounds utterly confident here and holds down the bottom end as readily as he uses his arco playing to invoke Ayler's frequent use of violins and cellos in his later music. Drummer Chad Taylor's approach to the intrinsic freedom found in these tunes is one of freely modulated pulse and embodies as much textural coloration as blazing forward momentum. Trumpeter Roy Campbell, a long time admirer of the late Don Cherry (one of Ayler's many horn partners) holds up the front line with splintery abstract glee one moment, somber lyricism the next.Read more ›
Themes are generally briefly stated, after which frantic collective improvisation begins-- at each point, there is a solo voice, but everyone gets involved in the improvisation. Perhaps most impressive is Grimes, making only his second recording since returning to the music scene, who performs with a self-assured confidence, particularly arco. The album is full of powerful moments (all over), but for me, the best moment is the theme statement of "Truth is Marching In"-- Campbell plays the melody, Ribot counters and harmonies it and Grimes freely associates in arco below. Eventually, Taylor joins in and adds flourishes and emphasis to the points being made. The band switches to a second theme (about four and a half minutes in) before soloing, and you can hear the pure joy in their playing.
All in all, this is a great piece-- you get the impression (particularly from the included live recording, "Bells") that this band would be a monster live and that this is only a snapshot of what their potential is. Recommended.
The spirit of Ayler is indeed captured by these players. Ribot makes no attempt to make his electric guitar sound like Ayler's alto saxophone, but nonetheless evokes both the wild and the tender aspects of Ayler's larger-than-life style. From the children's song folk melodies to the free blowing, Ribot, Campbell, Grimes, and Taylor bring the music to life.
Sadly, Roy Campbell, Jr., one of my favorite trumpet players, died in January 9, 2014 of heart disease at the age of 61. Ribot's new trio album Live at the Village Vanguard features the remaining three members of Spiritual Unity and includes performances of two Ayler compositions, "The Wizard," and "Bells."
(verified purchase from Decatur CD)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I sort of edged into this sideways - as a 40 something ex-punk (wait, I'm still a punk, scratch that ex part) - and musician (guitar, drums) I've long been on the lookout for... Read morePublished on April 7, 2006 by Geoffrey R. Balme
Yes, they are monsters when on stage. But beware, it could make a confusion - a friend of mine ran away from the club after 15 minutes of Ribot's & Ayler's controlled chaos. Read morePublished on October 9, 2005 by V. Vresnik