Baden-Baden Free Jazz Meeting
I’m grateful to Pierre Crepon for sending me the following track - it’s a tribute to Albert Ayler, recorded at the Baden- Baden Free Jazz Meeting on the 7th December 1970, just twelve days after Albert’s body was found floating in the East River. The band features Don Cherry, Steve Lacy and some of the leading musicians of the European free jazz scene, including: Tomasz Stanko, Manfred Schoof, Albert Mangelsdorff, Paul Rutherford, John Tchicai, Trevor Watts, Peter Brotzmann, Willem Breuker, Gunter Hampel, Joachim Kuhn, John Dyani, Peter Warren, Dave Holland, Han Bennink, John Stevens, Pierre Favre, Norma Winstone and Karin Krog.
Let’s Sing For Him (March In Memory of Albert Ayler)
‘My Name Is Albert Ayler’
Interplay ! Berlin - Free Jazz & Improvisation in Film are showing both Michael Snow’s New York Eye and Ear Control and Kasper Collin’s My Name Is Albert Ayler on Sunday 4th June. Full details on the website.
My Name Is Albert Ayler is also due to be shown in Estonia at the Pärnu International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival, July 2 – 16th, 2006.
There are also reviews of Kasper Collin’s film on Film Exposed and The Lamp and a couple of posts on the Mountain 7 site.
New Additions to the Site
What’s Available page updated for June.
July 1 2006
The Impulse Story
Not much to report this month - it must be the World Cup - but there are a couple of items relating to the Impulse compilations released last month. There’s an interview with Ashley Kahn and extracts from his book The House That Trane Built on the National Public Radio site. Although I tend to fixate on this site about the uncomfortable relationship between Ayler and Impulse, it should be remembered how important Impulse was to the free jazz movement and how much great music was packaged in those wonderful gatefold sleeves - for example, the NPR page has a link to Sonny Rollins’ ‘Alfie’s Theme’ - enough said.
There’s a review of the Ayler compilation by Thom Jurek on the All Music site.
New Additions to the Site
What’s Available page updated for July.
July 11 2006
Ayler at 70
Thanks to Ronald Wilson for reminding me that Albert Ayler would have been 70 on Thursday.
WNUR 89.3 FM in Chicago is broadcasting an Albert Ayler 70th Birthday Marathon on Thursday, July 13th, 2006, from 5 am to 9 pm CDT (GMT -0500), which should be available through their website.
Albert Ayler Project
The UK’s premier Ayler tribute band, the Albert Ayler Project, are playing the Ashton Court Festival (just outside Bristol) on Sunday, 23rd July at 8.15 pm, on the Blackout Stage. Phil Newberry alerted me to this event, but I also received an email from Roger Skerman of the band, who added the following appeal:
“At the moment our regular bass player is not available.So any double bass player ‘in simpatico’ who wants a gig can contact me.”
So any budding Gary Peacocks or Henry Grimeses or Steve Tintweisses in the Bristol area should email Roger.
July 15 2006
Along An Eastern Shore
Very short notice for this one, but thanks to Bill Schmidt for letting me know about it. Tomorrow, Sunday July 16th (12.30-2.30 pm), there’s the world premiere of R. A. Washington’s ‘Along An Eastern Shore’, at the 2006 Ingenuity Festival in Cleveland. The following information is taken from the Ingenuity Festival website:
‘“Along An Eastern Shore" is a choreopoem set to music celebrating one of the free jazz most intriguing players, Albert Ayler. Come witness r.a.washington direct a twelve piece band featuring poet Daniel Gray-Kontar as THE AYLER VOICE.
Washington is a writer, musician (Vernacular/MuAmin Collective/BlkTyger), a teacher and member of The Progressive Arts Alliance. Washington is the author of three books of poetry: “for me, with those before in mind” (1995), “i wish poppa dop wuz here” (1997), and “riot sketches” (1999). Washington has published two novellas: “a boy named james” (1999) “and open” (2000), and memoir of adolescence: “RE: Unions” (2003). His short films and paintings have been shown in independent galleries across the east coast, as well as, London, England, and Toronto, Canada. Washington served as the Cleveland Museum of Art’s first ever Poet-in-Residence. As the museum’s poet, Washington wrote curricula for creative writing classes, and visited several schools, and recreational centers bringing the message of literature as a tool in building a critical life. Washington has work forthcoming in “Quotes Community: Notes for Black Poets”, edited by Thomas Sayers Ellis.’
August 1 2006
Along An Eastern Shore
R. A. Washington’s ‘choreopoem’ in tribute to Albert Ayler, “Along An Eastern Shore”, performed by Daniel Gray-Kontar and the Albert Ayler Awareness Orchestra, had its world premiere at Cleveland’s Ingenuity Festival on July 16th. Photos of the event by Lou Muenz are available on his website, and there’s a six minute video extract on the YouTube site.
By the way, there’s another Ayler item on YouTube, featuring The Click Five (a popular beat combo) - very bizarre.
My Name Is Albert Ayler - Minneapolis
The Kasper Collin film is included in the 7th annual Sound Unseen film and music festival in Minneapolis and will be shown at the Riverview Theater on Saturday, August 19th at 1 pm.
Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor and the Danish Hamburger
In Marc Chaloin’s essay, ‘Albert Ayler in Europe: 1959-62’ (included in the Holy Ghost book and available on the Revenant website), he recounts the strange tale of an aborted recording session featuring Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor. I came across the origin of the story the other day on Torben Ulrich’s website. The following is an extract from an interview with Ulrich by Lars Movin, from Jazz Special (International Edition, 2003):
“ -However, the most interesting story is about Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor, who were supposed to play together, but that never happened. One of the most fantastic periods in the history of Jazzhouse Montmartre was when Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler both were in town [November 1962]. In the evening, Cecil Taylor played with Sunny Murray and Jimmy Lyons, and Albert Ayler played with pianist Atli Bjørns' group for a late night show. Those were amazing times, but also very straining for the employees as well as business. Let's say that Dexter Gordon played a tune that lasted eight minutes or a quarter of an hour and then it stopped. Then the waiters could serve the tables. Cecil Taylor on the other hand, he played for around fifty minutes non stop. And on top of that, the clientele he attracted weren't really interested in drinking beer or anything else, so there wasn't much business for the waiters.
-And then late at night, Albert Ayler would come along and roar with his saxophone, and that wouldn't make things much better. I especially remember one night, when Albert Ayler played well into morning. They just went on and on, and at one point, one of the waiters just couldn't take any more. Suddenly he put down his tray in front of the stage, stepped up and socked Albert Ayler and yelled, ... Shut up! ... Shut up! And Ayler was playing, only the white of his eyes showing, and he had no idea what was going on. The room went silent. And afterwards the waiter was miserable, and he hugged Albert Ayler and they cried, and it was terrible. But it goes to show what kind of pressure everyone was under, maybe the musicians too. There was a lot going on.
-It went on that way for a few days with us all hanging out till morning. Albert Ayler and Sunny Murray, who played drums with Cecil Taylor, were good friends, I think they'd already played once in New York at what could be called a historic meeting. But they hadn't recorded together. And so Erik Wiedemann and I decided to make a show with the two of them playing together. As I mentioned, we made these radio shows once a week or maybe every other week, and occasionally we had a chance to invite musicians to play in the studio, either Danes with international guests or local talent. So we asked the director of the entertainment dept. if we could do something with Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor. He mumbled a little and then he asked what it would cost. Well, it wasn't free. Cecil Taylor wanted 15.000 kroner and Albert Ayler and Sunny Murray had to be paid too. No way, and who did this jazz musician think he was anyway! Of course, if it had been Duke Ellington or Count Basie, things would have been different. But who the hell was Cecil Taylor, not to mention Albert Ayler? Eventually they let us do it anyway. It was the most expensive project we ever did.
-The day of the recording came, and let's say the studio was booked for one P.M.. That meant that Sunny Murray would bring his drums from Montmartre and Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler would arrive directly from the hotel. Naturally Erik and I were ready at one o' clock, drumming impatiently on the table, and it turned 1:15 and 1:30 and not a damn thing happened. So we called the hotel and found out that they thought we were going to pick them up. Okay, we drove over to pick them up. When we got there, Sunny Murray was there without his drums. He hadn't been over to Montmartre yet. Okay! We agreed that he would take a cab over to Montmartre and get his drums. In the meantime, the technicians were waiting. Now we had Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor in the building, but since Sunny Murray was picking up his drums, they figured they'd get something to eat in the canteen. But when they got up there, there wasn't really anything they wanted, so they asked if there was some other place close by. In the meantime, Sunny Murray had arrived from Montmartre saying it was closed, and he couldn't find anybody with a key. So we called the owner, Herluf Kamp-Larsen, to see if someone could let Sunny Murray in to get his drums. By now it was probably two or three o'clock. And Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor had gone across the street to a little restaurant where they could get some real food. They had ordered a couple of hamburgers from the menu, while Sunny Murray was still trying to get his drums and the time was 3:30 or 4:00. They later told us that it took the longest time to make those hamburgers, and finally the waiter came in with a big silver platter with what turned out to be pork with potatoes and vegetables [in Danish: hamburgerryg], which they didn't intend to pay for. Cecil Taylor got real mad and said they should call the police. The police arrived, and they called the radio studio saying that the police were there and this problem had to be solved. In the meantime it was 5:00 and we had the studio till 6:00. At 5:20, Sunny Murray arrived with his drums, and began setting them up. Naturally, there wasn't much time left to play, because at 6:00 everyone had to leave and there was no chance of working overtime. So we had to cancel the whole thing and send the musicians home.
-Afterwards the directors were furious. That was no way to treat the State Radio. But we hadn't lost hope, we asked if we could try again the next week, because the musicians were still in town and we'd love to arrange this historical meeting. But under no circumstances would the radio pay once more, and certainly not Cecil Taylor. But since it wasn't Albert Ayler who called the police, they would accept a session with him and Danish musicians. This resulted in the record MY NAME IS ALBERT AYLER [recorded in January 1963], on which he performs Summertime and several other tunes along with Niels Brønsted and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, which is fine, but in retrospect it really would have been a historical date if we had succeeded in getting Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor to record together. But at least we tried.”
And finally ... another Ayler poem
The google expedition which turned up the Torben Ulrich interview also uncovered a poem about Albert Ayler by Ralph Dumain. This comes with a warning though. If you stray from the link to the poem and decide to take a quick glance at the rest of his site (The Autodidact Project), be prepared to spend some time there - lots of fascinating stuff.
New Additions to the Site
What’s Available page updated for August.
September 1 2006
Henry Kaiser, Albert Ayler....and Mary Maria
According to The Flying Luttenbachers' website Healing Force - The Songs of Albert Ayler (with Henry Kaiser, Mike Keneally, Joe Morris, Vinny Golia, Aurora Josephson, Damon Smith and Weasel Walter) will be released later this year. Aurora Josephson’s site amends the title thus: ‘The Songs of Albert Ayler.....and Mary Maria’. which is only right and proper. An interview with Mike Keneally by Beppe Colli (from May 26th this year) on the Clouds and Clocks website provides the following information about the project, which I hope they don’t mind me repeating here:
“Last Kaiser experience: You are currently involved in a project about the music of Albert Ayler. Is it too early in the day to say something about it - how it all came together, etc.?
It started with me buying the recent box of the complete ESP-Disk' recordings - an Italian release as it happens - and realizing that some of Ayler's lines reminded me a lot of some of Buckethead's phrasing. I didn't have Bucket's number so I called Henry to ask if he knew if Buck had ever listened to Ayler. He didn't think so. I suggested that the three of us should record some Ayler tunes but neither of us had a current contact number for Buckethead, so I said well, maybe you and I should do it. That was the last I thought of it for a few days, until a few days later when Henry called back saying he'd assembled a group of musicians for the project already and also had ideas about songs to play. He wanted to play a lot of vocal songs from later Ayler records - "the ones nobody likes" he said. At that point I realized that Henry had completely picked up this ball and was running with it so I placed the direction of the project in his hands. The original saxophonist Henry had chosen decided to drop out of the project because he felt that the material we'd chosen was making fun of Christianity and Ayler's devotion to Jesus, but in my and Henry's view this is not the case at all - the end results bear no earmarks of easy sarcasm or criticism, to me. Vinny Golia came in to play sax which was an incredible blessing for the project. The players involved were Henry, myself, Joe Morris on guitar and acoustic bass, Damon Smith on acoustic bass, Weasel Walter on drums, Vinny Golia on saxes and Aurora Josephson on vocals. The songs we recorded are New Grass/Message From Albert, Japan/Universal Indians, Music is the Healing Force in the Universe, A Man is Like A Tree, Oh! Love of Life, Thank God For Women, Heart Love, New Generation/New Ghosts. We used a wide variety of approaches in the material, some very reverent and some more playful - for instance New Generation starts out sounding like Beefheart and suddenly shifts into sounding like Sonic Youth. We recorded the basic tracks for the whole album in one day, spent the next day doing overdubs and edits and ended up with 81 minutes of music. Henry was absolutely delighted afterward and said that it's one of the few albums he's done where he really looked forward to listening to it once it was done. It was an explosion of activity which was very focused, and a happy experience for everyone involved I think. I'm very grateful that my casual phone call to Henry about Ayler and Buckethead yielded such tangible results!”
This is hardly news since it refers to an Ayler tribute CD released in 2002, but I came across it while googling (which I now hear you’re not supposed to say anymore - Mr Google doesn’t like it since it interferes with his copyright and the correct phrase to use is ‘while searching the internet using the Google search engine © Mr. Google’ - I wonder if Mr Hoover was similarly miffed). Anyway, I digress. The CD, now listed on the Versions and Tributes pages, is One Day... by the Guy Villerd/Ayler Quartet. Usually when I come across an old tribute CD I add it to the site and say no more about it, but Mr Google’s brilliantly original invention also threw up a recent gig of M. Villerd’s band at the Pori Jazz Festival in Finland in July this year - nice to see Ayler’s music return to the land where he made his first recordings. There’s a feature (in French but with pictures) on the band on the Jazz Break site and an interview (in English) with Xavier Garcia, who plays ‘sampler’ with the group, on the Tomajazz site. Further information about Guy Villerd is available on the ARFI (“Association a la Recherche d’un Folklore Imaginaire”) site which includes an extract from his version of ‘Change Has Come’ (click ‘Radio Arfi’).
Impulse Story Review
The All About Jazz site has a review by Chris May of the recently released Ayler Impulse Story CD, Tenor Badness: Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, Gato Barbieri.
New Additions to the Site
Thanks to ebay, pictures of the original inner sleeve of Bells, printed with the ‘National Observer’ article, The Moody Men Who Play the New Music, added to the Bells page of the discography.
What’s Available page updated for September.
October 1 2006
London Jazz Festival
This year's London Jazz Festival, which takes place at various venues in the City, has three specific Ayler-related events at the South Bank Centre:
Spiritual Unity featuring Marc Ribot and special guest Henry Grimes - Friday 10 November, 7:30 pm Queen Elizabeth Hall.
“Perhaps no contemporary musician represents courageous versatility and hard-nosed genre transgression better than New York guitarist Marc Ribot, the South Bank Centre’s Festival Artist in Residence.
Jazz Festival audiences will be able to witness Ribot in various guises, the first of which is Spiritual Unity, featuring the recently re-discovered bassist Henry Grimes. Henry Grimes was a member of Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor’s band, before disappearing from the jazz scene in the late-1960s. He resurfaced and came to Ribot's attention and the two decided to form this project dedicated to the spirit of Albert Ayler's brand of hardcore free jazz. This show is sure to test the limits of extreme musical expression.”
“My Name Is Albert Ayler” - Saturday 11 November, 2:00 pm Purcell Room
“A screening of Kasper Collin's documentary film about saxophonist and iconoclast Albert Ayler, inspiration for Marc Ribot's Spiritual Unity project. The film is introduced and accompanied by Ayler's bassist Henry Grimes, in conversation with journalist and broadcaster Kevin LeGendre.This is a special Festival preview before an extended run of screenings at the ICA early next year.”
Gathering Ghosts - Saturday 11 November, 4:00 pm The Front Room at the Q. E. H. (admission free)
Maggie Nicols (voice), Caroline Kraabel (alto saxophone/voice) and John Edwards (double bass). This trio have been especially commissioned to present improvised and composed pieces inspired by the uncomprising nature, spirituality and physicality of Albert Ayler's music, including 'Albert' with words by Terry Day and music by Maggie Nicols.
Further details are available on the Royal Festival Hall’s website.
How many bells does that name cause to ring? I have to confess I couldn’t place Joe Rigby at all when Roy Morris emailed me to let me know that Joe Phillips was alive and well and still playing, and that his article about Joe Rigby was in the Paris Transatlantic online magazine. To recap, Roy was the guy with the original tapes of the Norman Howard ESP session (still no news from ESP on when ESP 1073 will finally see the light of day). Joe Phillips played alto with Howard on the session. And Joe Rigby? He seems to have knocked around with everybody, including Ayler: “Albert Ayler showed me how to play harmonics in a room at the Theresa hotel in Harlem. I remember Fidel Castro was staying there too.” Unfortunately he doesn’t say whether Fidel joined in the jam.
Riverboat Lovesongs for the Ghost Whale Regatta
is an installation by Michael Jones McKean which was shown at Grand Arts in Kansas City, Missouri from September 1st to October 21st 2006:
“Michael McKean's Riverboat Lovesongs for the Ghost Whale Regatta steers a meandering course between the objective facts of navigation and poetic possibilities of exploration. Like many of his installations, it slips between varied levels of reference, in this instance from Twain’s pilot house to Ahab's foredeck to the abandoned shell of Donald Crowhurst's Teignmouth Electron. Stagecraft and artifice are balanced by the concrete presence of clay, wind, and rain, while Albert Ayler's saxophone provides a sporadic and elegiac soundtrack. Casting a shadow over the installation as a whole is the implication that adventure and aspiration may very well end in death by water.
... McKean expands further upon the theme of peril at sea in the second, smaller gallery at Grand Arts. Constructed as a self-contained room within the gallery itself, this segment of the installation presents a model of a ship's pilot house, supported on a rocking platform, drenched by sheets of rain. Again, illusion and actuality are brought into play as McKean employs forced perspective and theatrical lighting, while leaving evident the pump, water tank, fog machine, dehumidifier, and motors necessary to support this installation. Opposite this structure, at the rear of the gallery space, is an absurdly overscale bank of speakers and amplifiers, which like the fan at the exhibition's entrance stand in for the forces of nature. Tuned to a low hum, once a day this “boom box” plays Albert Ayler’s solo from the funeral of John Coltrane. A primal cry, it ends with Ayler's saxophone assuming an almost human wail of sorrow. Four years after this bootlegged recording was made, Ayler's body was found drowned in New York's East River.”
Riverboat Lovesongs for the Ghost Whale Regatta will be on show at the DiverseWorks Art Space in Houston, Texas from January 12 to February 24, 2007.
Finding a link between Albert Ayler and Donald Crowhurst (beyond the obvious), you’d think would be enough to satisfy anyone’s transformationalistic gene, but no, one has to go one step beyond and discover the Top Synergy site - “Your key to successful relationships”. I confess, I am completely baffled by this. Is it a spoof? The entries on Adolf Hitler (“Serious and responsible, he tries to carry the world on his shoulders and rarely lets others know that he needs help and support.”) and Saddam Hussein (“Open and generous, Saddam Hussein enjoys a wide circle of friends and acquaintances and he thrives on sociability and fellowship. He is adventurous, playful, freedom-loving, and always ready for a good time.”) would suggest it is, but who in their right minds would go the trouble of inventing such a detailed website. On the other hand, if it is genuine, then we have to face the daunting truth that the world has finally gone mad.
New Additions to the Site
What’s Available page updated for October.
November 1 2006
London Jazz Festival
Further to the item in last month’s update - here’s a press release about Marc Ribot’s Spiritual Unity concert in London this month:
Part of the London Jazz Festival in association with BBC Radio 3
Fri 10 Nov Queen Elizabeth Hall 7.30pm
Spiritual Unity is a group formed by guitarist Marc Ribot dedicated to re-creating and re-imagining the music of saxophonist Albert Ayler, one of the pillars of modern jazz. Ribot has spent years listening to and internalizing the communicative group process integral to Ayler’s music: “a ritual process, through improvisation, of experiencing and presenting the rawest moment of musical creation”.
The group features bassist Henry Grimes, who played on many of Ayler's seminal recordings from the 1960s. Grimes’ amazing re- emergence after 30 plus years away from music is now one of the great stories in the annals of jazz.
Between the mid-'5O's and the mid-'6O's Henry Grimes played on some 50 albums with the likes of Charles Mingus, Don Cherry, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz, Sunny Murray, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor alongside his work with Ayler. But after the bass he had played on each and every one of those albums became unplayable in the late 60s, he disappeared from the music scene altogether. Over 30 years later fellow bassist William Parker gave Grimes a new bass and within weeks Grimes began gigging again, his contribution to Ribot’s Spiritual Unity album was his first since his re-emergence on the jazz scene.
Trumpeter Roy Campbell and drummer Chad Taylor, best known for his work with the Chicago Underground, complete the group. Campbell’s combination of lyricism and power and Taylor’s muscle and verve invoke the spirit of Ayler’s original band, while Grimes’ bass is straight out of Ayler’s heyday. Ribot’s playing, ranging from delicate beauty to wild wails and shrieks and everything in between, gets astonishingly close to Ayler's vocalised sax sound, matching the spirit and creativity of the saxophonist blow for blow.
Box Office 08703 800 400 “
My Name Is Albert Ayler - 1
Kasper Collin’s film is also being shown at the London Jazz Festival on Saturday, November 11th, at 2 p.m. in the Purcell Room.
To whet your appetite there is a three minute video clip of Kasper Collin talking about the film at this year’s Viennale (Vienna International Film Festival) which took place last month. If you look carefully, around the 20 second mark there’s a brief glimpse of Ayler playing in the background.
(Since I haven’t seen the film yet, I guess coming across this clip at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning has to count as the first time I’ve ever seen Albert Ayler play.)
My Name Is Albert Ayler - 2
Ebay currently have a copy of the original release of My Name Is Albert Ayler - Debut 140. The small version of the cover picture has been duly added to the site, but here’s the big one: