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Ornette Coleman

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!

Wednesday October 30 the great Mariza played at Zellerbach Auditorium.  I have seen her many times over the years since she first played the Henry Kaiser Auditorium as part of SF Jazz.  And I saw her in March in the intimate Robert N. Miner Auditorium.  In truth, I was considering not attending this show just because I had seen her very recently.  But Mariza is one of a hanful of artists, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Ravi Shankar, Paco de Lucia, Vicente Amigo, that I will literally see as often as I can, indeed every night, if I could.  And my response at her first notes are always the same - I weep.  Yes, she is very beautiful, and dramatic, and has the stage presence of Sinatra.  But it is the voice, the emotion, that always overcomes me.  Truly universal, and completely fado.  With Jose Neto on guitarra, Pedro Joia on guitar, Nando Araujo on bass guitar, and Vicky Marques (a boy) on drums, the arrangements vary from a capella to the orchestral.  Even American and Brazillian pop tunes become true fado in her hands.  She teaches the audience some Portuguese to sing along with her.  Before the encores, she walks through the audience singing, and then sings off mic.  I have some sephardic Spanish and Portuguese blood.  Is that why she affects me so?     

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