Home Music Albert Ayler: Stockholm, Berlin, Lörrach, Paris 1966

Albert Ayler: Stockholm, Berlin, Lörrach, Paris 1966

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Albert Ayler

Albert Ayler CD1Just as there will never be another musician like Charles Mingus or John Coltrane, never again will there ever be another musician like Albert Ayler. The tenor saxophonist made music as if it emerged involuntarily from a vortex deep inside his soul that was tortured by war and conflict, the struggle for civil rights and cold-war paranoia; yet this music that felt like a veritable insurrection emerged as the blues, whole; unexpurgated; old yet completely new, generating great gushes of music that stormed the bastions of the human spirit forcing it to take sides. Invariably this ended up being Mr. Ayler’s side. There was a very good reason for this. Beneath the music of tortured wails and the monstrous grumbles snaking out from the bell of his horn was sadness; a deep melancholia that emerged as a questioning voice that often begged the question: when will this end; and beneath even that was the voice of Mr. Ayler’s guardian angel, that enabled him to make those incredible honk and delighted shrieks interspersed with the grumbles and wails and those notes showed how he had become as ecstatic as anyone who through deep soul-searching in his playing, had come face to face with the Divine.

Albert Ayler CD2Albert Ayler toured Europe in 1966. Hat Hut followed him to Stockholm and Berlin; then to Lörrach and Paris, recording his prophetic voice. The result is two fine CDs: Stockholm, Berlin 1966 and Lörrach, Paris, 1966. Mr. Ayler is beyond beautiful. His music is worships at the altar of originality. It is deep, prayerful and beyond musical; it is theological. It traverses the collective polyphony of New Orleans, wallows in the Mississippi Delta and roars with the freedom that Mr. Ayler had achieved long before he toured Europe, when Bernard Stollman first recorded him in the early sixties. His music is demanding and disturbing; beautiful and earth-shattering. It blazes through the rhythmic strategies of bebop, takes what it needs and then barks and thunders on the road to freedom. He plays many of the same music at various venues. Remarkably the basic structure—even the melodic content—remains the same, but his improvisations are fabulously new and awesome in the variations that he urged from his tenor saxophone. Naturally this affects the members of this group, which was by all accounts and purposes one of the most remarkable to ever accompany this genius.

Listening to Mr. Ayler’s brother, Donald, for instance, on “The Truth IS Marching In” it becomes immediately clear that the trumpeter is absorbed by the music of the tenor saxophonist and brings to life—with him—visions of the ghosts of New Orleans marching heroes such as Buddy Bolden as well as the music of ecstasy that became real when John Coltrane and Mr. Ayler, himself became ordained by the living light. The screaming violin of Michael Samson is equally affected by the tenor saxophonist as sails into the proverbial infinite realm along with bassist William Folwell, whose playing con arco is as mighty as his frenzied pizzicato. And Beaver Harris is stupendous as he keeps an open pulse almost as if he were inviting the saxophonist and his trumpeter brother to jump in and roar and wail contrapuntally. The same intensity can be felt on the music from the Lörrach and Paris legs of his tour. Each chart is a priceless gem mined with multi-faceted ingenuity by Mr. Ayler and his brother Donald Ayler as well.

This music has been released before, but like the classic music that it is, it is clear that it is here because it is hypnotic and memorable and is music for the infinite time and space that aficionados and cognoscenti and just plain fans of Albert Ayler exist in every era from here to infinity.

Track List: Stockholm, Berlin, 1966: Truth Is Marching In; Omega (Is The Alpha); Our Prayer – Bells; Infinite Spirit – Japan; Truth Is Marching In; Omega (Is The Alpha); Our Prayer – Truth Is Marching In; Ghosts – Bells.

Track List: Lörrach, Paris, 1966: Bells; Jesus; Our Prayer; Spirits; Holy Ghost; Ghost; Holy Family; Ghost II.

Personnel: Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone; Donald Ayler: trumpet; Michael Samson: violin; William Folwell: double bass; Beaver Harris: drums.

Label: Hathut | Release date: September 2013

Website: ayler.co.uk | Buy music on: squidco.com

Albert Ayler

Albert Ayler was born in Cleveland, Ohio on 13th July, 1936. His father, Edward, encouraged an early interest in music and taught Albert to play the alto sax, and they performed as a duo in various local churches and community centres. Albert’s musical training continued at the John Adams High School where he also developed an interest in golf. In 1951, at the age of 15, Albert joined his first group, Lloyd Pearson and his Counts of Rhythm, which led to a job with Little Walter Jacobs. He spent the following two summer vacations on the road with the R&B band. In 1954, Albert graduated high school and went to a local college but in 1956, due to lack of money, he joined the army. His musical education continued, playing in the military band, which led to his first trip to Europe in 1959. He was stationed in Orléans, France with the 76th Adjutant General’s Army Band, but he was also developing his own style, playing with local musicians and sitting-in with unsuspecting jazz bands in Paris. Spirituals, rhythm and blues, jazz, and military brass band music, were all elements in Ayler’s eventual distinctive style, and they came together at a time when jazz was changing due to the ‘free jazz’ experiments of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane. During this first visit to Europe, Ayler also managed to visit Denmark and Sweden. After his discharge from the army in California in late 1961, Ayler returned home to Cleveland but he didn’t stay long.

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