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Spiritual Unity

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 3, 2005
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Product Description

Spiritual Unity, led by Marc Ribot, is a group dedicated to re-creating the collective musical process of Albert Ayler. Although their effort may involve highly skilled performers and produce moments of stunning aesthetic beauty, they believe Ayler's real legacy isn't the creation of aestheticized, gem-like renditions of pre-written concepts, or little parades of the performers' virtuosic abilities.



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.

Review

Ribots celebration of Rodriguezs legacy is distinguished by informed guts and understated grace. In its soulful warmth and tart guitar invention, this record is everything bright, daring [and] alive. --Rolling Stone

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
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 3, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: PI Recordings
  • ASIN: B0009298UW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,037 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Troy Collins on May 17, 2005
Format: Audio CD
One of the original giants of 1960's free jazz, saxophonist Albert Ayler's simple folk melodies and catchy march themes are easily the most instantly recognizable yet curiously the least covered or emulated. Guitarist Marc Ribot's "Spiritual Unity" is an attempt to bring Ayler's music into the future by re-imagining these primal works with an electro-acoustic quartet.

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.
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Format: Audio CD
Marc Ribot's Spiritual Unity is a band put together to explore the music of Albert Ayler, both from a compositional and theoretical standpoint-- this recording, four Ayler pieces and one original by Ribot, are performed with the same sort of frenzied collective improvisation style of Ayler's bands. What's remarkable is that for a band that was relatively recently formed, this quartet (Ribot on guitar, bassist on several early Ayler sessions Henry Grimes, trumpeter Roy Campbell and drummer Chad Taylor) sounds as though they've been doing this for years.

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.
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Format: Audio CD
The group Spiritual Unity, "dedicated to re-creating the collective musical process of Albert Ayler," brings together three generations of great musicians. Marc Ribot on guitar and Roy Campbell, Jr. on trumpet are of my generation, born in the Fifties. Henry Grimes (b. 1935) was Ayler's bass player, stopped playing after Ayler's death in 1970, and only started playing music again in 2002. Grimes sounds great, and obviously gives the group a strong link to Ayler. Finally, Chad Taylor is a young drummer from Chicago who has played with Rob Mazurek in the Chicago Underground Trio.

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)
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