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Wright, Frank: Your Prayer [VINYL] (ESP-Disk)

A much-referenced album on the ESP label, tenor saxophonist Frank Wright's 2nd release brought together New York alto saxophonist Arthur Jones with French trumpeter Jacques Coursil, then living in NY, and the rhythm section of bassist Steve Tintweiss and drummer Muhammad Ali, for a passionate, well-balanced, and often burning free jazz album that still sounds modern today.

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product information:

UPC: 825481105316

Label: ESP-Disk
Catalog ID: ESPDISK 1053LP
Squidco Product Code: 32450

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded at RLA Sound Studios, in New York, New York, in May, 1967, by Richard L. Anderson. Originally released in 1967 as a vinyl LP on the ESP label with catalog code ESP 1053.


Jacques Coursil-trumpet

Arthur Jones-alto saxophone

Frank Wright-tenor saxophone

Steve Tintweiss-bass

Muhammad Ali-drums

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Artist Biographies:

"Trumpeter, composer and scholar Jacques Coursil died on 26 June 2020 in Plombières, Belgium. He was 82. One of the few Europeans to have travelled to New York to take part in its avant garde movement of the 1960s, his trumpet added an original voice to a decisive moment in jazz history.

Coursil was born in the Montmartre area of Paris on 31 March, 1938 and grew up in the city's suburbs. His parents were from Fort-de-France, Martinique, in the French West Indies. Creole songs, biguine, clarinettist Alexandre Stellio's music and the Gregorian chants of churches made up the family's musical environment. Coursil's mother sung, and literature held an important place in the household. His father, a former sailor, was a syndicalist and French Communist Party member.

After a tentative start on the violin at age nine, Coursil took up the cornet as a teenager. Early jazz interests included New Orleans players Sidney Bechet and Albert Nicholas. A live performance by saxophonist Don Byas left a strong mark. Contemporary classical music - Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern - and Pierre Schaeffer's experimentations were other strong early interests.

In 1958, during decolonisation, Coursil left for Africa. He travelled for three years to Mauritania and Senegal, joining the entourage of Léopold Sédar Senghor, negritude writer and first president of independent Senegal. Back in France, Coursil studied literature and mathematics. He worked as a schoolteacher in Dieulefit, southern France, while attending the nearby Montélimar conservatory.

Selling his extensive library, Coursil moved to New York in 1965, without contacts but with knowledge of the jazz avant garde. He found work bartending at East Village jazz club The Dom.

"Coming to the free jazz scene, I firmly intended to deconstruct the whole apparatus of rhythm," Coursil told writer Jason Weiss in Always In Trouble: An Oral History Of ESP-Disk', The Most Outrageous Record Label In America. "I wanted to 'destroy' the beat and harmony too... I wanted to play atonal without any rhythmic framework. I also wanted to stop playing scales, to get away from melody. I was clear on that."

Coursil joined drummer Sunny Murray's band, leading to his first recording session for Murray's self-titled ESP-Disk' in January 1966. "Everybody plays legato now. I hate it. This is why I play in a very articulate manner," wrote Coursil in Actuel magazine in 1968. "A melodic line, a sonic sentence, needs to be organised rhythmically. It needs spirit, swing, but that swing doesn't have to be framed in a regular metre. An atonal and arhythmic phrase has to contain a certain amount of swing for it not to seem escaped directly from John Cage's zoo."

Leaving Murray's band, Coursil joined tenor saxophonist Frank Wright's first quintet, with drummer Muhammad Ali and bassist Henry Grimes. Alto saxophonist Arthur Jones was also a member and his partnership with Coursil would last for several years. The unit recorded Your Prayer for ESP in May 1967.

Coursil studied with pianist Jaki Byard and composer Noel DaCosta. Now focussing more on composition, he recorded his own leader date for ESP, with saxophonist Marion Brown. It remains unreleased. He wrote the 40 minute serialist Black Suite and an extended mass for choir and orchestra. "It might not please the Pope, this old racist who banned jazz, the music of black people, from churches, as if the gifts of Balthazar were in some way degrading," he wrote of the work in Actuel.

In addition to music, Coursil led what he termed a double life, teaching French by day at the prestigious United Nations International School and writing for Actuel. New York associates of the 1960s also included Rashied Ali, Alan Silva, Bill Dixon, Perry Robinson, Clarence 'C' Sharpe, Mark Whitecage, Burton Greene and Paul Bley. Coursil rehearsed briefly with The Sun Ra Arkestra.

During the summer of 1969, he visited France with Arthur Jones, taking part in sessions for the BYG label, then taping the first records in its Actuel series. Coursil made two LPs under his name - Way Ahead and a realisation of his Black Suite - and played on Burton Greene's Aquariana. The sessions' core personnel included Jones, bassist Beb Guérin and drummer Claude Delcloo. Coursil's band shared the stage of the American Center and the Lucernaire Theatre with pianist François Tusques and the recently arrived Art Ensemble Of Chicago and Anthony Braxton, who plays on Black Suite.

New York activity dwindled down, ceding ground for Coursil's academic pursuits. Shortly before leaving the city permanently in 1975, the trumpeter added a new technique to his repertory. "I was walking on Park Avenue [and] met my good friend Jimmy Owens... I said to him, Would you tell me how to do circular breathing? And as he was walking towards his home, he picked up straws from the cafeteria and he showed me the trick. And then I... started stopping all the cliches that I heard and learned... Then dropping all the cliches I have invented myself... And from then until now, it's just been one note," Coursil told All About Jazz New York in 2005.

Retreating from public performance, Coursil obtained two doctorates from the Université de Caen in Northwestern France, where he taught for two decades. A 1977 linguistics dissertation was entitled Recherches linguistiques sur la parole (Linguistic Researches On Speech). A 1992 applied science dissertation was entitled Grammaire analytique du français contemporain: Essai d'intelligence artificielle et de linguistique générale (Analytical Grammar Of Contemporary French: Essay In Artificial Intelligence And General Linguistics).

Coursil taught literature and theoretical linguistics. After Caen, he worked at the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane in Martinique, Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and at the University of California, Irvine. In addition to numerous papers, he published in 2000 La fonction muette du langage: Essai de linguistique générale contemporaine (The Silent Function Of Language: Essay In General Contemporary Linguistics), and in 2015 Valeurs pures: Le paradigme sémiotique de Ferdinand de Saussure (Pure Values: The Semiotic Paradigm Of Ferdinand De Saussure).

After more than three decades without records - but not entirely without performances, notably with François Tusques in 1981 - Coursil issued Minimal Brass in 2005. Initiated for his Tzadik label by saxophonist John Zorn, a former student of Coursil, the project was a solo album of fanfares made up of multiple overdubbed parts using circular breathing.

Clameurs and Trail Of Tears followed in 2007 and 2010 (both Universal Music France). Recorded in Martinique, the former featured pieces for trumpet and spoken word - drawing on the work of writers such as Frantz Fanon and Édouard Glissant - against a percussion and synthesizer pads background. The latter was an extended work dealing with the deadly forced relocation of Native Americans by the US government in the 1830s. The album included a reunion with his former colleagues from the free jazz scene. Coursil's final album was FreeJazzArt: Sessions For Bill Dixon, a duet with Alan Silva issued by RogueArt in 2014."This is my last free jazz record," he said, "I won't make others." "-The Wire

-The Wire (

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"Arthur Jones (1940 1998) was an American Free Jazz alto saxophonist known for his highly energetic but warm tones.

Jones was born in Cleveland, USA, and played for several years in a Rock and Roll band. After discovering music by Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy, he started appearing on the New York scene, playing in Frank Wright's group where he took part in the recording of the Your Prayer (1967) album. He then also worked with Jacques Coursil. In 1968 he was a member of Sunny Murray's Acoustical Swing Unit, with which he went to Paris in 1969 and where he recorded two albums of Africanasia as leader with most of the musicians from the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He also made numerous other recordings for BYG Actuel, with Coursil, Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray or Burton Greene. He died in New York City, USA."

-Wikipedia (

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"Frank Wright (9 July 1935 - 17 May 1990) was an American free jazz musician from Grenada, Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee and Cleveland, Ohio, known for his frantic style of tenor saxophone.

Wright was born in Grenada, Mississippi, but he grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He began to play tenor sax in his late teens, when his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio as part of the Great Migration out of the South. More than 1.5 million black Americans left the South before World War II to seek opportunities in the industrial cities of the North and Midwest. Another 5.5 million left during and after the war, up to 1970.

In Cleveland, Wright met Bobby Few and Albert Ayler, both of whom became friends and musical influences. Originally a bass player, Wright played in numerous local R&B bands before taking up the saxophone. He also toured with B. B. King and Bobby "Blue" Bland. Ayler's musical influence persuaded Wright to switch to saxophone; his style is often associated with Ayler's. In addition to tenor saxophone, he also played the soprano saxophone and bass clarinet. A pioneer of experimental music, Wright is a widely acclaimed artist among his colleagues in the free jazz movement."

-Wikipedia (

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"At the end of the summer [2003], Steve Tintweiss, best known as bassist for Albert Ayler and Patty Waters, performed at the renovated bandshell in Forest Park in Queens. The performances, which featured a group including clarinetist Perry Robinson and drummer Lou Grassi, marked five decades in which Tintweiss had been producing grant-funded concerts in New York area parks. "I wanted to take the opportunity to bring the new jazz to Queens," said Tintweiss, in a recent conversation in downtown Manhattan.

Tintweiss, a lifelong New York resident, grew up in Brooklyn and Queens. After starting on the baritone horn, he switched to bass. He played at several youth matinee concerts at the original Birdland, also spending numerous evenings there hearing players such as Coltrane, Dolphy and Pharoah Sanders.

After hearing bassist Steve Swallow playing in duo with singer Sheila Jordan at Take 3, a Greenwich Village coffee shop, Tintweiss began taking lessons with him. That then led to tutelage under Gary Peacock, then playing with Miles Davis. Tintweiss recalled "I actually took a couple of lessons during the day with him where he had his bass at the Vanguard." After Peacock left to tour with Albert Ayler in Europe in 1964, Tintweiss studied with Ornette Coleman bassist David Izenzon, a "very good experience, especially in the arco bowing techniques."

As a teenager and in his early 20s, Tintweiss was part of the nascent free jazz movement that had come out of the October Revolution in Jazz. In December of 1965, as part of pianist Burton Greene's trio, he recorded on the album Patty Waters Sings (ESP). "That was a landmark recording, " said Tintweiss. "When Patty was singing her version of "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair" she was in a sound isolation booth on the other side of the studio and it had this pink window, it looked like a phone booth...she got so emotional, so carried she was yelling and screaming, she was knocking against the booth and it started swaying, I thought it was going to fall over...that's a very vivid memory."

Tintweiss would go on to be closely associated with ESP and its founder Bernard Stollman. The bassist participated in the 10-day tour of upstate New York colleges which led to a couple of recordings and appeared on tenor saxophonist Frank Wright's second album for the label Your Prayer. He had met Wright through vocalist Judy Stewart, who would later introduce him to Ayler, and was invited to play the session, by his recollection a wacky one. "All of us, except for Jacques Coursil the trumpet player, were all on acid for that record... we had learned to use LSD in a disciplined way, as a tool. We were able to discipline ourselves to be able to play and fulfill our obligations." "-Andrey Henkin, All About Jazz

-All About Jazz (

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"Muhammad Ali (born Raymond Patterson, 23 December 1936 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was a free jazz drummer.

Ali was born and grew up in Philadelphia where he, along with his father and brothers, converted to Islam. He recorded with Albert Ayler in 1969 on the sessions released as Music is the Healing Force of the Universe and The Last Album. He moved to Europe in 1969 along with Frank Wright, Noah Howard, and Bobby Few. His brother is Rashied Ali.

The Jazz Discography states that Ali participated in 26 recording sessions from 1967 to 1983.

In October 2006, Ali played a concert to celebrate John Coltrane's 80th birthday in Philadelphia with his brother, Dave Burrell and bassist Reggie Workman. He is also playing with Noah Howard in the summer of 2008.

Ali spent six weeks teaching Haaz Sleiman to play drums for his part as a drummer in The Visitor, and spent some time teaching Richard Jenkins drums for his lead role in the same film."

-Wikipedia (

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track listing:


1. The Lady 7:05

2. Train Stop 7:36

3. No End 6:49


1. Fire Of Spirits 12:46

2. Your Prayer 15:48
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Frank Wright returned to the studio in May 1967 to make his second album using a quintet of players little-known at the time but now legends to free-jazz cognoscenti. Trumpeter Jacques Coursil, who almost made an album for ESP-Disk' himself, went on to the greatest fame of the players besides Wright; alto saxophonist Arthur Jones was not recorded nearly as often as his talents deserved; Steve Tintweis's stint playing with Albert Ayler raised the young bassist's profile; Muhammad Ali was Coltrane drummer Rashied Ali's brother.

Together they raise the roof on a free-jazz marathon that still stands as Wright's magnum opus. "Your Prayer finds Wright refining the bag his solos come from, yet maintaining a firm hold on the ecstatic free-blues shout that makes up most of his solo language..."-ESP

"Your Prayer is a rather lengthy slab of high-energy grit, but its unified forward and upward motion make for a firmly rooted sonic liberation." --CliffordAllen, All About Jazz

"Rather intense at times, these emotional performances... still sound groundbreaking three decades later." --Scott Yanow, All Music

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