“I Got One More!” liner notes by Lee Hildebrand - from CD.
“I got one more!” bassist Kurt Ribak calls to the band at the end of his first solo chorus on “Prelude to a B Movie.”
It’s one of 10 original tunes comprising Ribak’s fourth CD as bandleader. He planned to take only one solo chorus,
fearing he lacked the endurance for
two. His auto accident two years earlier injured
his left forearm,
hand, and fingers
so severely it was thought he might never play again. Some of the doctors still can’t believe he’s playing again.
But as he played, he felt no pain and took a second solo chorus, this time slapping the strings of his blond bass
like Charles Mingus or Milt Hinton.
A Berkeley, California native and resident, Ribak (pronounced REE-bok, like the shoe) has always had an
affinity for rhythm. His mother danced him around the room when he was a baby, and then he was found
dancing by himself to the rhythm of the family dishwasher.
The burly bassist half jokingly calls what he does “music for the jazz impurist.” “My music,” he says, “comes out
of dance rhythms. When people dance to it, they’re getting my music.” The music is accessible, but not
dumbed-down. Kurt says, “It’s important to reach out to people but not condescend. I don’t try to make my tunes
accessible. They simply come out how they come out.”
The dance-inspired grooves of I Got One More! are diverse—from the noir swing of “Prelude to a B Movie”
and the witty “My Bald Head” (Ribak sings his own lyrics) to the one-drop reggae of “Churchy Dread.”
“Hana Bay” is a bossa nova, while “Morning Hymn” is South African-spiced soca and “Sin Dignidad” (“Without
Dignity”) is a bolero. Other tracks are the soul-jazz boogaloo of “ReConnexions,” the funk of “Thanks Julian”
(dedicated to both trombonist Priester and saxophonist Adderley), and the greasy “Fried Chicken.” “Nancy Ellen,”
written for Ribak’s mother, employs three different rhythms—samba, swing, and quarter time—its shifts
inspired in part by “Reincarnation of a Lovebird” and other Charles Mingus compositions.
The bassist’s three previous albums were piano trios - with a few guests sitting in on the second, 2007’s More.
The new recording, I Got One More! features larger ensembles performing his compositions. Greg Sankovich
has played in Ribak’s group since 2003 and played piano on the earlier releases. Here he alternates between
acoustic and electric pianos and Hammond organ. Saxophonist Lincoln Adler is also featured throughout.
He has known Ribak since they sang as children in the San Francisco Boys Chorus. Like Sankovich, Adler is a
member of the Bay Area jazz-funk group Times 4. Alan Hall, one of the area’s busiest and most versatile
drummers, plays on every song. Percussionist Michaelle Goerlitz is on all but two tracks. Ross Wilson plays on
eight tracks, alternating between trombone, trumpet, and flugelhorn. Tony Marcus plays acoustic arch-top
rhythm guitar on two selections, and rockabilly, country, and surf guitar virtuoso Jinx Jones plugs in his guitar on
Ribak’s return to making music is an inspiring story. On June 19, 2012 a car ran a stop sign, slammed into the
bassist’s truck, flipped it on its side, and mangled his left arm and hand. He was cut out of the wreckage and
transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland. “I was told I was ‘trauma of the day’ at Highland,” he notes.
Hospitalized for a month, he underwent seven surgeries in which skin was taken from his thigh and grafted to
his left arm and hand. Kurt had to re-learn to play the bass when he picked it up again in Spring 2013. He
had additional operations before recording "I Got One More!" and will have more in the future. No longer able
to use his fourth finger, he had to change his fingering patterns in order to play bass.
Ribak says, “Down the road I may have more ability to move my hand, but realistically it’s permanently changed.
I had to make my style more minimal because of the injury. Anyway, I’d rather walk a big fat four that swings
than run around on the fingerboard.” Ribak ruefully notes the injury “demands I be more tasteful in my playing.”
Besides Charles Mingus and Charlie Haden, Ribak names Ray Brown and Paul Chambers as influences on
his playing. The bassist credits Mingus, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley as inspirations for
—Lee Hildebrand, longtime contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle