Marc Ribot

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Marc Ribot
Ribot performing in 2007
Ribot performing in 2007
Background information
Born (1954-05-21) May 21, 1954 (age 69)
Newark, New Jersey, United States
GenresExperimental, alternative, avant garde, electronic, hardcore punk, no wave, classical, free jazz
Years active1970s–present
LabelsAntilles, Avant, DIW, Atlantic, Tzadik, Pi, Anti-, Northern Spy

Marc Ribot (/ˈrb/;[1] born May 21, 1954) is an American guitarist and composer.

His work has touched on many styles, including no wave, free jazz, rock, and Cuban music. Ribot is also known for collaborating with other musicians, most notably Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Vinicio Capossela and John Zorn.


Marc Ribot, who is of Jewish heritage,[2] was born in Newark, New Jersey. He grew up in the Montrose section of South Orange, New Jersey.

He has worked extensively as a session guitarist. He has performed and recorded with Tom Waits, Caetano Veloso, John Zorn, David Sylvian, Jack McDuff, Wilson Pickett, Arto Lindsay, T-Bone Burnett, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Cibo Matto, Sam Phillips, Elvis Costello, Tift Merritt, Allen Ginsberg, Foetus, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Susana Baca, The Black Keys, Vinicio Capossela, Alain Bashung, McCoy Tyner, Elton John, Madeleine Peyroux, Marianne Faithfull, Diana Krall, Mike Patton, Stormin’ Norman and Suzy Williams, Neko Case, Joe Henry, Allen Toussaint, Robert Quine, Ikue Mori,[3] and others. Ribot was a member of The Lounge Lizards for several years in the late 1980s. Band leader John Lurie later wrote: "Marc is a musical genius. So many ideas are coming out of that guy that it is actually often a problem."[4]

Ribot's earliest work as a session musician was featured on Tom Waits's Rain Dogs (1985) and helped define Waits's new musical direction.[5] Ribot worked with Waits on many of his following albums including Franks Wild Years (1987), Big Time (1988), Mule Variations (1999), Real Gone (2004), Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (2006) and Bad as Me (2011). He has appeared on Elvis Costello's Spike (1989), Mighty Like a Rose (1991), and Kojak Variety (1995). Ribot has appeared on numerous recordings by John Zorn, including many of Zorn's Filmworks recordings, solo performances on Zorn's Masada Guitars (also featuring Bill Frisell and Tim Sparks), and is a member of Zorn's Bar Kokhba Sextet and Electric Masada.

Ribot's first two albums featured the Rootless Cosmopolitans, followed by an album of works by Frantz Casseus for solo guitar. Further releases found him working in a variety of band and solo contexts including two albums with his self-described "dance band", Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos[6] (Prosthetic Cubans), featuring compositions by Arsenio Rodríguez.

Ribot admitted to Guitar Player a relatively limited technical facility due to learning to play right-handed despite being left-handed: "That's a real limit, one that caused me a lot of grief when I was working with Jack McDuff and realising I wasn't following in George Benson's footsteps. I couldn't be a straight-ahead jazz contender if you held a gun to my head."[7]

He currently performs and records with his groups Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog with bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Ches Smith of the avant-garde band Secret Chiefs 3,[8] Marc Ribot Trio with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Chad Taylor of Chicago Underground, Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos with Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez on drums and original members pianist Anthony Coleman, bassist Brad Jones and percussionist EJ Rodriquez,[9] and The Young Philadelphians, covering 1970s Philadelphia soul music with Philadelphia-based musicians bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and drummer G. Calvin Weston with guitarist Mary Halvorson plus a three-piece string section.

A biographical documentary film about Ribot was made, called The Lost String.[10]

Ribot was also a judge for the sixth annual Independent Music Awards.[11]


Marc Ribot in Saalfelden, Austria 2010



  1. ^ "Marc Ribot biography". Marc Ribot Homepage. Retrieved September 22, 2008.
  2. ^ "Unstrung: Rants and Stories of a Noise Guitarist – Marc Ribot".
  3. ^ "Discograph". Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  4. ^ John Lurie (2021). The History of Bones, Random House
  5. ^ Ruhlman, W. All Music Review of Rain Dogs accessed September 3, 2008.
  6. ^ Jazz, All About (February 21, 2004). "A Fireside Chat with Marc Ribot". All About Jazz. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  7. ^ Guitar Player, June 1997
  8. ^ Ted Drozdowski (June 25, 2008). "Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog Party Intellectuals". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved July 15, 2008.
  9. ^ "Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos". marc ribot. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  10. ^ "Marc Ribot. The Lost String". January 27, 2013. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  11. ^ Independent Music Awards – 6th Annual Judges Archived October 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine

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