Solo Guitar Works of Frantz Casseus
At first, more than fifteen hundred miles and nearly four decades in age separated the guitarists Frantz Casséus and Marc Ribot, who were born in different countries with different musical traditions. After immigrating from Port-au-Prince to New York City, Casséus, who would become known as the father of Haitian classical guitar, released several classic Folkways records in the fifties and sixties. He went on to tour the United States with Harry Belafonte and become the first Black artist to play classical guitar at Carnegie Hall.
He was also the first teacher of a young Marc Ribot, who followed those lessons down a legendary path through the downtown New York scene and popular music alike. After Casséus’s death in 1993, Ribot sought to preserve his legacy by editing a collection of his music and playing some of his guitar compositions on the 1993 album Marc Ribot Plays Solo Guitar Works of Frantz Casséus. It was remastered and expanded with three new tracks in 2021, a year that also brought the reissue of the acclaimed album Silent Movies from 2010.
They may have come from different times and places, but when Ribot brings his inimitable touch and evident emotion to Casséus’s soft, sinuous, ravishing pieces, the distance between them seems no farther than the distance between twelve resounding strings.