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Marc Ribot had a four night residency at SF Jazz last week.  I chose to see Ceramic Dog, his "no wave" trio with Shahzad Ismailly (Yoko Ono/Lou Reed/Laurie Anderson) on bass and Ches Smith (Mr. Bungle/Mary Halvorson) on drums.  I had the privilege of having Ches play with my group some years ago before he left the Bay Area for New York.  He is an incredibly inventive and original drummer, able to mimic machine sounds and samples with his drum kit.  With Ceramic Dog he also triggered samples and synth lines, ala Brain with our own Valence Project.  I'm fond of saying that Ribot is the real Bill Frisell; a genuine deep knowledge of American roots music, combined with a ruthless determination to turn out something new.  He's also way more technically proficient than Frisell.  Ribot has stated that this is his first rock band.  There has always been a subversive element in improvised music, from Jelly Roll Morton to Ornette Coleman to Sonny Sharrock.  (A lot of Ceramic Dog conjures up Sonny Sharrock and Blood Ulmer, particularly their cover of Take Five).  There was even a Serge Gainsbourg ballad.  Bravo Cermaic Dog!

My Valence Project band mates Brain and Melissa Reese suggested we check out the Steve Gadd Band at Yoshi's last night.  I've had the privilege of seeing Steve many times; with Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, and most recently at SF Jazz with David Sanborn and Bob James.  He's always super tasteful and groovy.  From being part of the house band at CTI Records, often with Ron Carter on bass and revolving leaders including Jim Hall, Paul Desmond, Chet Baker and Hubert Laws, to Stuff (the Live at Montreux dvd is a must have) Gadd can play any style of music with conviction and taste.  For his own band he had Larry Goldings on B3 (I believe I first saw Larry with John McLaughlin many years ago) Larry Johnson (James Taylor/ Allan Holdsworth) on bass, Walter Fowler on trumpet and fluglehorn, and Michael Landau on guitar.  The music ranged from funk to New Orleans second line, to blues to a lovely straight-ahead version of Bye Bye Blackbird. So inspirational!


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