Marc Ribot | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The guitarist who started his career backing up Wilson Pickett, made his mark on records by Tom Waits and Elvis Costello, and served a stint in the Jazz Passengers makes a rare Chicago solo appearance. Ribot, who plays with an acidic, decaying, gutbuckety tone, opts for off-kilter phrasing regardless of the context: foaming sound on a recording of Allen Ginsberg, a jagged free improvisation on a performance of John Zorn's Cobra. When Ribot plays in a rock setting riffs get dissected and reassembled, leaving a thick layer of rust. A Ribot-led quartet blew Elliott Sharp's Carbon off the stage at Lounge Ax a few years ago with a combination of brutal rock power and pungent waves of corrosive sound. His most recent album, Shrek (Avant), while employing a rock band format, is decidedly more experimental. However, with a few exceptions--the drunken march of "Hoist the Bloody Icon High" and a blunt rendition of Albert Ayler's "Bells"--it's not that good. Static structures house intensely circular guitar drones as well as harshly keening solo fragments with nowhere to go. The three possibilities for this performance are pieces from Zorn's "The Book of Heads" (a series of solo guitar pieces written years ago with Eugene Chadbourne in mind), Ribot's twisted take on standards from Monk to Ayler, and some originals for solo guitar. It's hard to predict results. Ribot's first album, Rootless Cosmopolitans (Antilles), was a terribly uneven affair that promised not a bit of the firepower he pulled out at Lounge Ax a few years back; he could do it again. The show opens with a drum duet by Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang. Saturday, 10 PM, Lunar Cabaret, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lisa Linzler.

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