Albert Ayler Quartet: European Radio Studio Recordings 1964

Albert Ayler Quartet: European Radio Studio Recordings 1964

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Albert Ayler newSomehow words such as ‘exciting,’ ‘electrifying’ and ‘powerful’ seem so insufficient in describing the tenor saxophonist, Albert Ayler. Perhaps there is no set of words to describe the experience of his music, but there is a hint that he once gave when he spoke of the Holy Trinity as being John Coltrane as ‘The Father,’ Pharoah Sanders as ‘The Son’ and himself as ‘The Holy Spirit’ of (the) Jazz of the day. Only Pharoah Sanders is alive today, but listening to the music of the three in retrospect, there is something profoundly prophetic about this metaphoric ssetting. You also get a sense of how much Albert Ayler was influenced by and influenced the other two musicians, but most important of all that ‘Trinity’ image also suggests that of all the three musicians Albert Ayler was not only the most ethereal but perhaps the most visceral as well.

Albert Ayler Quartet European Radio Studio Recordings 1964There was something utterly childlike about his music. This is true of all geniuses. He expressed fear, joy and pathos with thrilling magnificence. Most magnificent of all was the high drama of his battle with expressing the travails of the human condition. In that respect Albert Ayler was the quintessential jazz artist who had arrived at his music via a deep immersion in the blues. Unashamedly so. He increasingly looked back at history for the roots of African-American identity, drawing on pre-slavery African expressionism to shape his music. But this was not a revisionist preoccupation of African roots. It was more a stripping away of all intellectualism of Jazz so much so that all remained of it was its elemental supremacy. But this was far from ‘folkloristic’ music as such and was steeped in a kind of spiritual and metaphysical influence. This would account for the momentous music that suggested communion with ‘Ghosts’, ‘Angels’ and ‘Saints’. We have some of the finest examples of this on these European Radio Studio Recordings 1964.

The music performed here is special in the instrumental passion enacted by Albert Ayler as he seeks to capture what most certainly fills his soul in his playing of the tenor saxophone. What makes this performance particularly appealing is honesty and humanity with which Ayler plays. This is not simply music, but art of the highest order. In terms of artistry there is absolutely no daylight between Albert Ayler and Don Cherry, and between Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray. The triumph of this disc is that it makes you think: ‘What monumental music!’ Such is the astonishing and utterly mesmerising performance and it’s a tribute to the astonishing musicality of Albert Ayler, as well as that of the trio that accompanies him on this date.

Track List: Angels; C.A.C; Ghosts; Infant Happiness; Spirits; No Name; Vibrations; Saints; Spirits.

Personnel: Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone; Don Cherry; Gary Peacock; Sunny Murray: drums.

Label: Hat Hut
Release date: June 2016
Running time: 59:54

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Based in Canada, Raul is a musician and an accomplished writer whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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