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Ayler, Albert Quartets: Spirits To Ghosts Revisited (remastered) (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Three variations of quartet settings from iconoclastic free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler, remastering and combining two Debut Records albums, "Spirits" from 1964 with Norman Howard (trumpet), Sunny Murray (drums), and alternating bass between Henry Grimes & Earle Henderson; and 1965's "Ghosts" on Debut Records with Don Cherry (trumpet), Gary Peacock (bass), and Sunny Murray.
 

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UPC: 752156110125

Label: ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd
Catalog ID: ezz-thetics 1101
Squidco Product Code: 27858

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded in New York, on September 14th, 1964.


Personnel:

Albert Ayler-tenor saxophone

Norman Howard-trumpet

Henry Grimes-double bass

Earle Henderson-double bass

Sunny Murray-drums

Don Cherry-trumpet

Gary Peacock-double bass

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Artist Biographies:

"Albert Ayler (born July 13, 1936 - November 25, 1970) was an American avant-garde jazz saxophonist, singer and composer.

After early experience playing R&B and bebop, Ayler began recording music during the free jazz era of the 1960s. However, some critics argue that while Ayler's style is undeniably original and unorthodox, it does not adhere to the generally accepted critical understanding of free jazz. In fact, Ayler's style is difficult to categorize in any way, and it evoked incredibly strong and disparate reactions from critics and fans alike. His innovations have inspired subsequent jazz musicians.

His trio and quartet records of 1964, such as Spiritual Unity and The Hilversum Session, show him advancing the improvisational notions of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman into abstract realms where whole timbre, and not just mainly harmony with melody, is the music's backbone. His ecstatic music of 1965 and 1966, such as "Spirits Rejoice" and "Truth Is Marching In", has been compared by critics to the sound of a brass band, and involved simple, march-like themes which alternated with wild group improvisations and were regarded as retrieving jazz's pre-Louis Armstrong roots.

Early life and career

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Ayler was first taught alto saxophone by his father Edward, who was a semiprofessional saxophonist and violinist. Edward and Albert played alto saxophone duets in church and often listened to jazz records together, including swing era jazz and then-new bop albums. Ayler's upbringing in the church had a great impact on his life and music, and much of his music can be understood as an attempt to express his spirituality, including the aptly titled Spiritual Unity, and his album of spirituals, Goin' Home, which features "meandering" solos that are meant to be treated as meditations on sacred texts, and at some points as "speaking in tongues" with his saxophone. Ayler's experience in the church and exposure to swing jazz artists also impacted his sound: his wide vibrato was similar to that of gospel saxophonists, who sought a more vocal-like sound with their instruments, and to that of brass players in New Orleans swing bands.

Ayler attended John Adams High School on Cleveland's East Side, and graduated in 1954 at the age of 18. He later studied at the Academy of Music in Cleveland with jazz saxophonist Benny Miller. Ayler also played the oboe in high school. As a teenager, Ayler's understanding of bebop style and mastery of standard repertoire earned him the nickname of "Little Bird", after Charlie "Bird" Parker, in the small Cleveland jazz scene.

In 1952, at the age of 16, Ayler began playing bar-walking, honking, R&B-style tenor with blues singer and harmonica player Little Walter, spending two summer vacations with Walter's band. In 1958, after graduating from high school, Ayler joined the United States Army, where he switched from alto to tenor sax and jammed with other enlisted musicians, including tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. Ayler also played in the regiment band, along with future composer Harold Budd. In 1959 he was stationed in France, where he was further exposed to the martial music that would be a core influence on his later work. After his discharge from the army, Ayler tried to find work in Los Angeles and Cleveland, but his increasingly iconoclastic playing, which had moved away from traditional harmony, was not welcomed by traditionalists.

Ayler relocated to Sweden in 1962, where his recording career began, leading Swedish and Danish groups on radio sessions, and jamming as an unpaid member of Cecil Taylor's band in the winter of 1962-63. (Long-rumored tapes of Ayler performing with Taylor's group were released by Revenant Records in 2004, as part of a 10-CD set.) The album My Name Is Albert Ayler is a session of standards recorded for a Copenhagen radio station with local musicians including Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and drummer Ronnie Gardiner, with Ayler playing tenor and soprano on tracks such as "Summertime".Early recording career

In 1963, Ayler returned to the US and settled in New York City, where he continued to develop his personal style and occasionally played alongside free jazz pianist Cecil Taylor. 1964 was the most well-documented year of Ayler's career, during which he recorded many albums, the first of which was Witches and Devils in March of that year. Ayler also began his rich relationship with ESP-Disk Records in 1964, recording his breakthrough album (and ESP's very first jazz album) Spiritual Unity for the then-fledgling record label. ESP-Disk came to play an integral role in recording and disseminating free jazz. Spiritual Unity featured the trio that Ayler had just assembled that summer, including bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray. The liner notes of Spiritual Unity include a brief description of the musicians on that day, July 10, 1964, in the Variety Arts Recording Studio.

Just before 1 PM, Sunny Murray arrived, a large, genial walrus....Gary Peacock was next, tall, thin, ascetic looking, and soft spoken....Albert Ayler was last, small, wary, and laconic.

On July 17, 1964 the members of this trio, along with trumpet player Don Cherry, alto saxophonist John Tchicai, and trombonist Roswell Rudd, collaborated in recording New York Eye and Ear Control, a freely improvised soundtrack to Canadian artist and filmmaker Michael Snow's film of the same name. During this time, Ayler began to garner some attention from critics, although he was not able to foster much of a fan following. However, later in 1964, Ayler, Peacock, Murray, and Cherry were invited to travel to Europe for a brief Scandinavian tour, which too yielded some new recordings, including The Copenhagen Tapes, Vibrations, and The Hilversum Session.

Ayler recorded Bells on May 1, 1965. It is a ferociously-paced 20-minute improvisation featuring his signature military-march influenced melodies. Spirits Rejoice was recorded on September 23, 1965 at Judson Hall in New York City, and features a much larger band than the sparse trio of his earlier album Spiritual Unity. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music describes Spirits Rejoice as a "riotous, hugely emotional and astonishingly creative celebration of the urge to make noise." Both albums feature Albert's brother, trumpet player Donald Ayler, who translated his brother's expansive approach to improvisation to the trumpet. Donald played with Albert until he experienced a debilitating nervous breakdown in 1967.

In 1966 Ayler was signed to Impulse Records at the urging of Coltrane, the label's star attraction at that time. But even on Impulse, Ayler's radically different music never found a sizable audience. Ayler's first set for Impulse was recorded a few weeks before Christmas in 1966, entitled Albert Ayler in Greenwich Village. Ayler performed with his brother, Michel Samson, Beaver Harris, Henry Grimes, and Bill Folwell, and his Coltrane was in attendance. For a tune titled "For John Coltrane," Ayler returned to the alto saxophone for the first time in years.

Ayler first sang on a recording in a version of "Ghosts" performed in Paris in 1966, in which his vocal style was similar that of his saxophone, with an eerie disregard for pitch. Ayler continued to experiment with vocals for the rest of his career. In 1967, John Coltrane died of liver cancer, and Ayler was asked to perform at his iconic funeral. It is said that during his performance, Ayler ripped his saxophone from his mouth at two points: once, to emit a cry of anguish, the other a cry of joy to symbolize his friend and mentor's ascension into heaven.Final years

For the next two and half years Ayler began to move from a mostly improvisatory style to one that focused more closely on compositions. This was largely a result of pressures from Impulse who, unlike ESP-Disk, placed heavier emphasis on accessibility than artistic expression. In 1967 and 1968, Ayler recorded three LPs that featured the lyrics and vocals of his girlfriend Mary Maria Parks and introduced regular chord changes, funky beats, and electronic instruments.

Ayler himself sang on his album New Grass, which hearkened back to his roots in R&B as a teenager. However, this album was remarkably unsuccessful, scorned by Ayler fans and critics alike. Ayler staunchly asserted that he wanted to move in this R&B and rock-and-roll direction, and that he was not simply succumbing to the pressures of Impulse and the popular music of that day, and it is true that Ayler heavily emphasizes the spirituality that seems to define the bulk of his work. New Grass begins with the track "Message from Albert," in which Ayler speaks directly to his listener, explaining that this album was nothing like his ones before it, that was of "a different dimension in [his] life." He claims that, "through meditation, dreams, and visions, [he has] been made a Universal Man, through the power of the Creator..."

In 1968, Ayler submitted an impassioned, rambling open letter to Cricket magazine entitled "To Mr. Jones-I Had a Vision," in which he describes startling apocalyptic spiritual visions. He "saw in a vision the new Earth built by God coming out of Heaven," and implores the readers to share the message of Revelations, insisting that "This is very important. The time is now."

His final album, Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe, featured rock musicians such as Henry Vestine of Canned Heat alongside jazz musicians like pianist Bobby Few. This was a return to his blues-roots with very heavy rock influences, but did feature more of Ayler's signature timbre variations and energetic solos than the unsuccessful New Grass.

In July 1970 Ayler returned to the free jazz idiom for a group of shows in France (including at the Fondation Maeght), but the band he was able to assemble (Call Cobbs, bassist Steve Tintweiss and drummer Allen Blairman) was not regarded as being of the caliber of his earlier groups.

Ayler disappeared on November 5, 1970, and he was found dead in New York City's East River on November 25, a presumed suicide. For some time afterwards, rumors circulated that Ayler had been murdered, with a long standing urban legend that the Mafia tied him to a jukebox. Later, however, Parks would say that Ayler had been depressed and feeling guilty, blaming himself for his brother's problems. She stated that, just before his death, he had several times threatened to kill himself, smashed one of his saxophones over their television set after she tried to dissuade him, then took the Statue of Liberty ferry and jumped off as it neared Liberty Island. He is buried in Highland Park Cemetery in Beachwood, Ohio."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Ayler)
12/10/2019

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Avant-garde jazz trumpeter Norman Howard was born in Cleveland, OH, on August 25, 1944, and was a contemporary of saxophonist Albert Ayler (the two worked together on Ayler's Witches & Devils album). In 1968 Howard and a quartet that included alto saxophonist Joe Phillips recorded two sessions originally intended for release on the ESP label. Unfortunately, the label hit hard times and the albums didn't materialize. While those tapes languished in the vaults, cassette copies began to surface via collectors. Finally, in 2007, the Burn Baby Burn session was released for the first time on CD by ESP."

-All Music (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/norman-howard-mn0000088091/biography)
12/10/2019

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"As of the beginning of 2016, master jazz musician Henry Grimes (acoustic bass, violin, poetry, illustrations) had played more than 615 concerts in 31 countries (including many festivals) since 2003, when he made his astonishing return to the music world after 35 years away. He was born and raised in Philadelphia and attended the Mastbaum School (1949-52) and Juilliard (1952-54). As a youngster in the '50's and early '60's, he came up in the music playing and touring with Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson, Arnett Cobb, "Bullmoose" Jackson, "Little" Willie John, King Curtis, and a number of other great R&B / soul musicians; but drawn to jazz, he went on to play, tour, and record with many great jazz musicians of that era, including Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz, Steve Lacy, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Sunny Murray, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, and McCoy Tyner. Sadly, a trip to the West Coast to work with Al Jarreau and Jon Hendricks went awry, leaving Henry in Los Angeles at the end of the '60's with a broken bass he couldn't pay to repair, so he sold it for a small sum and faded away from the music world. Many years passed with nothing heard from him, as he lived in his tiny rented room in an S.R.O. hotel in downtown Los Angeles, working as a manual laborer, custodian, and maintenance man, and writing many volumes of handwritten poetry. He was discovered there by a Georgia social worker in 2002 and was given a bass by William Parker, and after only a few weeks of ferocious woodshedding, Henry emerged from his room to begin playing concerts around Los Angeles and shortly afterwards made a triumphant return to New York City in May, 2003 to play in the Vision Festival. Since then, often working as a leader, he has played, toured, and / or recorded with many of this era's musical and literary heroes, such as Chris Abani, Rashied Ali, Geri Allen, Marshall Allen, Barry Altschul, Fred Anderson, Tatsu Aoki, Newman Taylor Baker, Billy Bang, Harrison Bankhead, Amiri Baraka, Joey Baron, Hamiet Bluiett, Dave Burrell, Roy Campbell Jr., Alex & Nels Cline, Cooper-Moore, Marilyn Crispell, Connie Crothers, Ted Curson, Andrew Cyrille, Thulani Davis, Toi Derricotte, Bill Dixon, Pierre Dorge, Hamid Drake, Paul Dunmall, Cornelius Eady, Kahil El'Zabar, Douglas Ewart, Bobby Few, Charles Gayle, Melvin Gibbs, Yoriyuki Harada, Craig Harris, Graham Haynes, Karma Mayet Johnson, Edward "Kidd" Jordan, Andrew Lamb, Nathaniel Mackey, Maria Mitchell, Nicole Mitchell, Roscoe Mitchell, Elaine Mitchener, Louis Moholo-Moholo, Meredith Monk [recording only], Jemeel Moondoc, Jason Moran, David Murray, Sunny Murray, Amina Claudine Myers, Zim Ngqawana, Kresten Osgood, William Parker, HPrizm (High Priest, Kyle Austin), Odean Pope, Avreeayl Ra, Tomeka Reid, Vernon Reid, Marc Ribot, Matana Roberts, Orphy Robinson, Brandon Ross, Lee Mixashawn Rozie, Mark Sanders, Rasul Siddik, Wadada Leo Smith, Warren Smith, Tyshawn Sorey, Sekou Sundiata, Tani Tabbal, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Aldo Tambellini, Greg Tate, Cecil Taylor (reunion), Chad Taylor, John Tchicai, Pat Thomas, Henry Threadgill, Edwin Torres, Dwight Trible, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Ed Wilkerson Jr., James Zollar, John Zorn, and too many others to list here. In the past few years, Henry has also held a number of residencies and offered workshops and master classes on major campuses, including: Berklee College of Music (Boston); Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts (upstate New York); CalArts, hosted by Wadada Leo Smith (Valencia, California); the Carlucci School, with Andrew Lamb and Newman Taylor Baker (Portugal); Hamilton College of Performing Arts, with Rashied Ali (upstate New York); Humber College (Toronto); JazzInstitut Darmstadt (Germany); Mills College, hosted by Roscoe Mitchell (Oakland, California); New England Conservatory (Boston, Massachusetts); Scuole Bruscio and Scuole Poschiavo (Switzerland); the University of Gloucestershire at Cheltenham (U.K.); University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; and several more. Henry can be heard on about a dozen new recordings, made his professional debut on a second instrument (the violin) at the age of 70 alongside Cecil Taylor at Lincoln Center, has seen the publication of the first volume of his poetry, "Signs Along the Road," by a publisher in Cologne, and creates illustrations to accompany his new recordings and publications. He has received many honors in recent years, including four Meet the Composer grants. Mr. Grimes can be heard on 90+ recordings on various labels, including Atlantic, Ayler Records, Blue Note, Columbia, ESP-Disk, ILK Music, Impulse!, JazzNewYork Productions, Pi Recordings, Porter Records, Prestige, Riverside, and Verve. He is the subject of a new biography published in London, "Music to Silence to Music: A Biography of Henry Grimes" by Dr. Barbara Frenz, with a beautiful foreword by Sonny Rollins (http://tinyurl.com/h9f8mo4). And on July 7th, 2016, Henry received a Lifetime Achievement Award and played a full evening of concerts with groups of his own choosing in the Arts for Art / Vision Festival at Judson Memorial Church in New York City , where he had also played and recorded with Albert Ayler's group back in the '60s. Henry Grimes is now a permanent resident of New York City and welcomes students here."

-Henry Grimes Website (https://henrygrimes.com/biography/#FullLength)
12/10/2019

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Earle Henderson is an American Free Jazz bassist. Childhood friend of Albert Ayler; "switched from piano to bass, in order to develop a style that would compliment Ayler's". "

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/339560-Earle-Henderson)
12/10/2019

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"James Marcellus Arthur "Sunny" Murray (born September 21, 1936 in Idabel, Oklahoma) is one of the pioneers of the free jazz style of drumming.

Murray spent his youth in Philadelphia before moving to New York City where he began playing with Cecil Taylor: "We played for about a year, just practicing, studying - we went to workshops with Varèse, did a lot of creative things, just experimenting, without a job" He was featured on the influential 1962 concerts in Denmark released as Nefertiti the Beautiful One Has Come.

Murray was among the first to forgo the drummer's traditional role as timekeeper in favor of purely textural playing. "Murray's aim was to free the soloist completely from the restrictions of time, and to do this he set up a continual hailstorm of percussion ... continuous ringing stickwork on the edge of the cymbals, an irregular staccato barrage on the snare, spasmodic bass drum punctuation and constant, but not metronomic, use of the sock-cymbal"

After his period with Taylor's group, Murray's influence continued as a core part of Albert Ayler's trio who recorded Spiritual Unity: "Sunny Murray and Albert Ayler did not merely break through bar lines, they abolished them altogether."

He later recorded under his own name for ESP-Disk and then when he moved to Europe for BYG Actuel."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunny_Murray)
12/10/2019

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Imagination and a passion for exploration made Don Cherry one of the most influential jazz musicians of the late 20th century. A founding member of Ornette Coleman's groundbreaking quartet of the late '50s, Cherry continued to expand his musical vocabulary until his death in 1995. In addition to performing and recording with his own bands, Cherry worked with such top-ranked jazz musicians as Steve Lacy, Sonny Rollins, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, John Coltrane, and Gato Barbieri. Cherry's most prolific period came in the late '70s and early '80s when he joined Nana Vasconcelos and Collin Walcott in the worldbeat group Codona, and with former bandmates Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell, and saxophonist Dewey Redman in the Coleman-inspired group Old and New Dreams. Cherry later worked with Vasconcelos and saxophonist Carlos Ward in the short-lived group Nu.

The Avant-Garde

Born in Oklahoma City in 1936, he first attained prominence with Coleman, with whom he began playing around 1957. At that time Cherry's instrument of choice was a pocket trumpet (or cornet) -- a miniature version of the full-sized model. The smaller instrument -- in Cherry's hands, at least -- got a smaller, slightly more nasal sound than is typical of the larger horn. Though he would play a regular cornet off and on throughout his career, Cherry remained most closely identified with the pocket instrument. Cherry stayed with Coleman through the early '60s, playing on the first seven (and most influential) of the saxophonist's albums. In 1960, he recorded The Avant-Garde with John Coltrane. After leaving Coleman's band, Cherry played with Steve Lacy, Sonny Rollins, Archie Shepp, and Albert Ayler. In 1963-1964, Cherry co-led the New York Contemporary Five with Shepp and John Tchicai. With Gato Barbieri, Cherry led a band in Europe from 1964-1966, recording two of his most highly regarded albums, Complete Communion and Symphony for Improvisers.

Cherry began the '70s by teaching at Dartmouth College in 1970, and recorded with the Jazz Composer's Orchestra in 1973. He lived in Sweden for four years, and used the country as a base for his travels around Europe and the Middle East. Cherry became increasingly interested in other, mostly non-Western styles of music. In the late '70s and early '80s, he performed and recorded with Codona, a cooperative group with percussionist Nana Vasconcelos and multi-instrumentalist Collin Walcott. Codona's sound was a pastiche of African, Asian, and other indigenous musics.

Art Deco

Concurrently, Cherry joined with ex-Coleman associates Charlie Haden, Ed Blackwell, and Dewey Redman to form Old and New Dreams, a band dedicated to playing the compositions of their former employer. After the dissolution of Codona, Cherry formed Nu with Vasconcelos and saxophonist Carlos Ward. In 1988, he made Art Deco, a more traditional album of acoustic jazz, with Haden, Billy Higgins, and saxophonist James Clay.

Multikulti

Until his death in 1995, Cherry continued to combine disparate musical genres; his interest in world music never abated. Cherry learned to play and compose for wood flutes, tambura, gamelan, and various other non-Western instruments. Elements of these musics inevitably found their way into his later compositions and performances, as on 1990's Multi Kulti, a characteristic celebration of musical diversity. As a live performer, Cherry was notoriously uneven. It was not unheard of for him to arrive very late for gigs, and his technique -- never great to begin with -- showed on occasion a considerable, perhaps inexcusable, decline. In his last years, especially, Cherry seemed less self-possessed as a musician. Yet his musical legacy is one of such influence that his personal failings fade in relative significance."

-All Music (Chris Kelsey) (http://www.allmusic.com/artist/don-cherry-mn0000796166/biography)
12/10/2019

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Gary Peacock (born May 12, 1935, in Burley, Idaho, United States) is an American jazz double-bassist.

After military service in Germany, in the early sixties he worked on the west coast with Barney Kessel, Bud Shank, Paul Bley and Art Pepper, then moved to New York. He worked there with Bley, the Bill Evans Trio (with Paul Motian), and Albert Ayler's trio with Sunny Murray. There were also some live dates with Miles Davis, as a temporary substitute for Ron Carter.

Peacock spent time in Japan in the late 1960s, abandoning music temporarily and studying Zen philosophy. After returning to the United States in 1972, he studied Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle, and taught music theory at Cornish College of the Arts from 1976 to 1983.

In 1983 he joined Keith Jarrett's "Standards Trio" with Jack DeJohnette (the three musicians had previously recorded Tales of Another in 1977 for ECM Records, under Peacock's leadership). Among the trio's albums are Standards, Vol. 1 and Standards, Vol. 2 and Standards Live.

With the breakup of the "Standards Trio" in 2014, Peacock decided to continue his career as the leader of his own piano trio, with Marc Copland on piano and Joey Baron on drums. His 80th birthday year (2015) saw him touring worldwide with this trio to support their ECM release."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Peacock)
12/10/2019

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:


1. Spirits 6:33

2. Prophecy (misstitled Saints) 6:11

3. Holy, Holy 11:09

4. Witches And Devils 12:05

5. Ghosts 7:58

6. Mothers 7:05

7. Vibrations 4:56

8. Holy Spirit 8:29

9. Ghosts 2:06

10. Children 6:52
sample the album:








descriptions, reviews, &c.

"The mystery of Albert Ayler's musical legacy - as much as that of his still-unexplained death in 1970 - remains today, more than 54 years after these explosive, enigmatic studio recordings were made in early and late 1964, a source of conjecture and controversy. Primarily because his stunningly powerful projection, unorthodox technique, and unique vision resisted the typical methods of description and analysis, critics and scholars (the major exception, of course, being Ekkehard Jost) have sought to illuminate or, on the other hand, discredit Ayler's extraordinarily original creations largely through speculation and metaphor.

It's hard to blame them. Although it did not emerge from a vacuum, there were no obvious immediate precedents to prepare listeners for Ayler's idiosyncratic, iconoclastic improvisational concept. Consider even the most progressive of his peers. Ornette Coleman had issued his most radical statement, the album Free Jazz, in 1960, but except for three live recordings and the 1965 "soundtrack" to the film Chappaqua Suite he provided nothing of note between March 1961 and September 1966. John Coltrane would not record A Love Supreme until December 1964, and in the period before this released music that was no more advanced - and in some cases much more conservative - than that which he performed at the Village Vanguard in 1961. In 1962 and '63, Sonny Rollins was performing the most adventurous music of his career, freely improvised escapades in tandem with the everpresent trumpeter Don Cherry, but except for one edited RCA album, the bulk of this amazing music was not heard until years later. Archie Shepp had worked with Cecil Taylor and the New York Contemporary Five, but was still in the process of developing a cogent approach to the consequences of freedom. Eric Dolphy, after suggesting an alternative direction to total freedom alongside Coltrane and Charles Mingus, died in June 1964.

A few clues may be gleaned from Ayler's initial efforts once out of the Army. A pair of haphazardly recorded albums of standards from Stockholm in October 1962 (First Recordings, Vol. 1 & 2) and a third from Copenhagen three months later (My Name is Albert Ayler) revealed a puzzlingly inchoate perspective - wickedly abused melodies, a seemingly random wandering through keys, and a willfully distorted saxophone tone ranging from pinched squeals to hoarse guttural braying - which seems even more disoriented due to the conventional support of the Scandinavian rhythm sections. What makes these albums unsettling and spellbinding is Ayler's intuitive albeit disruptive lyricism and deadly serious nature - there is no sense of Sonny Rollins' spontaneous wit or constructivist irony to be heard, none of Coltrane's relentless "Chasin' the Trane" style of thematic elaboration, or Dolphy's harmonic and rhythmic angularity. Ayler's demeanor is neither nihilistic disdain nor absurdist whimsy; the tunes are simply vehicles for expressive - indeed, sometimes painfully exaggerated - gestures of abstracted sound.

Nevertheless, the leap from there to the music on this disc (as well as his Trio recordings of 1964 Prophecy and Spiritual Unity with Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray, which will for the first time be released in one complete edition by Hat Hut Records under agreement with the Albert Ayler Estate) in just over a year is a large one, and accounts for the mature, uncompromising, uninhibited, revelatory Ayler canon. He sounds strengthened in his resolve to exploit

Thus the unfettered cries were associated with field hollers; the ensemble's simultaneous exhortations became New Orleans-style polyphony; Ayler's wide saxophone vibrato found a link to Sidney Bechet; episodes of intense abandon signified political and social unrest; the wailing ballads were heard as hymns and invocations to a spiritual transcendence; and so on. But this is not to suggest that these are imagined or inconsequential explanations; Ayler's own statements and song titles may or may not provide validation. Nevertheless, they do tend to obscure a deeper sense of the originality and courage of Ayler's conception in distinctly musical terms. And although in his final years the idea of pure sound values as emotional weight and communicative essence. Hence the abandoning of familiar standards in favor of his own simpler, "folk-derived" themes. Yet the new expressive vocabulary - the hyperextreme wails, growls, and whimpers, devoid of quotations or references to familiar musical experiences - that he and his cohorts sustained while disposing of conventional tonality and phrasing in song form seemed so alienating that interpretations required a conventional, if metaphorical rather than musical, logic.

Ayler shifted his approach to a simplified rock and r&b style, either for commercial or communicative considerations, the expressive qualities of his example have been carried on and extended (or unfortunately in many cases diluted), remaining highly influential among free jazz practitioners today - so much so, that we can no longer hear this music with the amazement of those 1964 listeners. And yet it has lost none of its impact."-Art Lange, from the liner notes



This album has been review on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!
Related Categories of Interest:


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Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quartet Recordings
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