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Live At Slug’s Saloon

Live In Europe 1964-66

Stockholm, Berlin 1966

Lorrach/Paris 1966

In Greenwich Village

Love Cry

New Grass

Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe

The Last Album

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Nuits De La Fondation Maeght

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2007

BAN203

archives

News from 2007

January 1 2007

News

No news, but a Happy New Year to one and all!

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New Additions to the Site

Last year’s ‘What’s New’ page has been archived and the What’s Available page has been updated for January.

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February 1 2007

News

Don Ayler’s ‘In Florence 1981’ on the radio

Maarten Derksen is presenting a programme on Don Ayler on the Dutch Concertzender radio station which will include tracks from Don’s triple LP set, In Florence 1981. The programme will be broadcast on Saturday, February 10th, 4 - 5 pm and will be repeated on Tuesday, 13th Feb., 11 pm to midnight, and Tuesday 20th Feb., 4 - 5 pm. All the broadcasts are available via the internet.

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A postcard from Ted Joans

Julian Dickerson, grandson of the late Ted Joans (a stalwart champion of Albert Ayler, and much more besides), kindly sent me the picture below. To read the inscription (and it’s well worth it), click the picture for a larger version, then click your back button to get back to this page.

joanslt

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“My Name Is Albert Ayler” at the ICA, London

Kasper Collin’s film, “My Name Is Albert Ayler” is booked for a week-long run at the ICA in London, from Friday 9th to Thursday 15th of February. Full details are available on the ICA site.

A full-page article about Ayler and the film was published in The Guardian’s arts section on Wednesday, 31st January. The article, by The Guardian’s regular jazz critic, John Fordham, is available online.

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A few things I’ve missed

There’s an article (from September 2006) about Albert Ayler by Peter Cousaert in the online Belgian magazine, White Heat.

A review of “My Name Is Albert Ayler” on the heuriskein blog.

And a nice piece on Brian Nation’s Beat the Devil site about meeting Albert in 1964, which includes the picture below (complete with its intriguing description).

aylerframe

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New Additions to the Site

Thanks to Mitsuo Johfu and Richard Rees Jones for correcting a couple of errors on the site. Mitsuo pointed out that the photo of the Ayler band from The Copenhagen Tapes, was taken at the Golden Circle, Stockholm, not (as I just assumed, the Cafe Montmartre, Copenhagen). And Richard let me know that the triple LP set of Holy Ghost is a one-off, rather than the first in a series (which, again, I’d just assumed). I must stop assuming things.

What’s Available page updated for February.

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March 1 2007

News

My Name Is Albert Ayler gets U.K. release

Not as exciting as it sounds. I doubt whether it will be coming to a multiplex near you but it could mean that the smaller arty cinemas and film societies (if such things still exist) might give it a go. However one effect of the film’s release on 9th February (which coincided with its showing at the ICA), is that the film did get reviewed in a number of mainstream papers, including The Observer:

“Finally, Kasper Collin’s My Name Is Albert Ayler, a fascinating Swedish documentary about the black avant-garde saxophonist from Cleveland, Ohio, who left America in his early 20s to find recognition in Sweden. Ayler made his first record there before returning to the States in 1964. He achieved fame, got religion, but couldn’t find an audience and was frequently near to starvation. In 1970, at the age of 34, he committed suicide (partly from some strange religious impulse to save his sick mother and deranged brother) by jumping off a New York ferry.”

                                                                                                                   (Philip French, The Observer, 11.2.07)

What I find interesting about these reviews is that they’re written by the regular film critics (Philip French, for example has been at The Observer for donkey’s years) so you do get an idea of the impression that the film, and Ayler himself, makes on the uninitiated. I've listed some of the other reviews below. The New Statesman critic is not a fan. And the review in The Telegraph messes with one of the great myths - it was not Lew Grade (always an ITV man) who consigned the BBC's 'Jazz Goes to College' recording to the outer darkness, it was Bill Cotton, son of the popular bandleading Billy, who did the dirty deed. Let's try to keep the rumours straight.

Film Reviews:

The Guardian
The Independent
The Telegraph
Evening Standard
New Statesman
Time Out
BBC
Channel 4
Documentary Filmmakers Group

Another curious side-effect of the British 'release' of the film means it gets listed on sites such as LoveFilm (‘Europe's No.1 online DVD rental service’) so that Google will bring up the tantalising phrase 'Rent My Name is Albert Ayler from LoveFilm' - but you can't.

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Leroy Jenkins (3/11/32 - 2/24/07)

Although Leroy Jenkins never recorded with Ayler, I thought I should mention his passing since, according to the ‘Sightings’ section of the ‘Holy Ghost’ book, he played at Ayler’s last confirmed gig. It took place on 8th August 1970 in Springfield, Massachusetts, with the following line-up: Albert Ayler (ts), Leroy Jenkins (vln), Allen Blairman (d), Mary Maria (voc, ss). More information about Leroy Jenkins is available on the Other Minds site.

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A couple of covers

A couple of interesting items on ebay last month. An early version of Spiritual Unity with the inverted, white on black cover (which went for the bargain price of $20.50) and a copy of Something Different!!!!! (aka The First Recordings) with blank, white labels. The latter was withdrawn from sale, but it must be one of the rarest Ayler LPs out there. According to the blurb, it was purchased from Frippe Nordström (the album’s producer) in the mid-sixties by the Swedish drummer, Erik Dahlbäck. The seller also included a picture of the back cover, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

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bnwh102
bnwh202

New Additions to the Site

What’s Available page updated for March.

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March 5 2007

News

Jair-Rohm Parker Wells - Meditations on Albert Ayler - Glenn Miller Cafe, Stockholm, 8th March.

A bit late, I know, but I thought I should mention it. This Thursday, 8th March, at 8 pm at the Glenn Miller Cafe in Stockholm, Jair-Rohm Parker Wells is presenting "Meditations on Albert Ayler" a three hour improvised suite for trio inspired by the life, music and words of Albert Ayler. Featuring: Luther Thomas (saxes), Tony Bianco (drums) and Jair-Rohm Parker Wells (basses). The show will also be recorded for future CD release. More information about Jair-Rohm Parker Wells is available on myspace.

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April 1 2007

News

Leroy Jenkins Interview

Following Leroy Jenkins’ death in February (Guardian obituary), Radio KPFA in California broadcast a 2 hour interview with Jenkins from 1987 on the ‘In Your Ear’ programme on March 24th. The interview is available in the KPFA archives and will remain so for the next four months. It’s well worth checking out the whole thing, but the most interesting segment for Ayler fans occurs around the 1 hour, 29 minute point. Here, Jenkins describes the Springfield, Massachusetts gig of 8th August 1970, and adds a few more details to the mystery of Ayler’s final months. I must thank Reynold Brown for letting me know about this.

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Tony Scott (6/17/21 - 3/28/07)

Sad to report the passing of another great musician, the clarinetist, Tony Scott, who died in Rome (from prostate cancer) on Wednesday, 28th March. Still, he did make it to the good old age of 85. Like Leroy Jenkins, one does not immediately think of him in relation to Albert Ayler (although I always felt that Scott shared a similar outsider status in the jazz world) but although he never recorded with Ayler, they did play together, as related in the ‘Witnesses’ section of the ‘Holy Ghost’ book:

Clarinetist Tony Scott followed his Music for Zen Meditation period in Japan with several months leading sessions at the Dom on St. Mark’s Place.

“We had music nightly there; I was there two years or something. Albert came to the Dom many times and I invited him to jam. That’s where I met him and I invited him to bring his whole group down. They came in and just sat in with me. So he played with his band—trumpet player and all, I think it was his brother. They sounded like a Martinique marching band. One day he sat in with my band playing ‘Summertime’ and then he went way out, you know. I turned to Perry Robinson and said, ‘Does he know ‘Summertime’?’ He said, ‘Forget that and listen to what he’s playing!’”

The AP report is available on the Guardian site, and there’s also an official Tony Scott site for more information about his contribution to jazz.

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My Name Is Albert Ayler

According to the film’s website (which has a number of reviews from the English press) Kasper Collin’s documentary is due to be shown at the Ritzy Picturehouse in Brixton, London from Friday April 13th to the following Thursday.

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New ESP Sampler

The ESP site has changed again and there’s news of a new sampler DVD featuring extracts from every ESP album. No details yet of which Ayler tracks are included.

espnewsa espsamp2

New Additions to the Site

What’s Available page updated for April.

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May 1 2007

News

Don Ayler In Florence 1981

Don Ayler’s triple LP set, In Florence 1981, is available for download on the Church Number Nine site. It was posted on April 24th, so you have to scroll down the page a little. The comments on the posting are also worth reading.

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New Additions to the Site

What’s Available page updated for May.

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June 1 2007

News

No News....no site either

If you’ve been getting a FORBIDDEN notice on the site recently, then I apologise. If you’re reading this, then I’ve fixed it.

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No news this month but I did manage to see the film, ‘My Name Is Albert Ayler’ and fulfil an ambition I’ve had for the last forty years, to see Albert Ayler play. It is a stunning piece of work and Kasper Collin deserves both praise and thanks for creating it. Of course, no film is perfect (except maybe ‘Ride Lonesome’ and ‘Vertigo’) and I have a few minor criticisms - some stock footage of a race riot accompanied by some of Ayler’s wilder music seemed rather facile and the whole sun worship bit at the end to hint at Albert’s state of mind seemed a little shaky (you might as well point to ‘Water Music’ on The Last Album and drag out some significance from that) - but these are minor quibbles. The film, as a whole, is a magnificent tribute to Albert Ayler and is, in itself, a wonderful piece of cinema. There are enough reviews out there now to make anything I might say redundant, but I feel I have to mention two revelatory moments in the film. The first, rather obviously, is the footage of the Ayler band from 1966. Although I can’t say for sure, I presume this is from the TV broadcast of the Berlin Jazz Festival (in the acknowledgements at the end of the film Ralf Schulte-Bahrenberg is listed and he was the announcer at the Berlin concert). Although others may argue that the Spirtual Unity Trio was Ayler’s greatest band, and some may prefer the Don Cherry Quartet (and there are even some benighted souls who like the late Impulse rock stuff), for me the various line-ups featuring Don Ayler on trumpet are the best of Ayler, and the fact that a video fragment of the 1966 group has survived is incredible. How much of the raw footage of that concert exists, I don’t know, but in a perfect world it would make an incredible extra feature for the DVD release. But, we do not live in a perfect world and the other revelatory moment, for me at least, proves it. The film opens and closes with Albert’s father looking for his grave (and if such a film can be said to have ‘stars’ then Edward Ayler and Sunny Murray are the stars of this). We’ve known for a long time now how Albert, as an ex-serviceman, was entitled to a military funeral, and how, through bureaucratic error or simple military bungling, his gravestone reads that he died in Vietnam. What I hadn’t realised, never considered, until I saw the film, was that Albert’s grave is included in the military section of the cemetery, just one among many, in the ranks of dead soldiers. Maybe it was because it came at the end of the film, and watching it was an emotional experience, but for some reason I did find that final image immensely moving.

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New Additions to the Site

What’s Available page updated for June.

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July 1 2007

News

Classic Jazz Calendar

Perhaps it is too early to be thinking of Christmas presents, but the weather over here in England is distinctly autumnal at the moment. Pomegranate.com are featuring Albert Ayler on the January page of their 2008 Classic Jazz Calendar. The blurb runs as follows:
“Embodying America’s motto E pluribus unum (“From many, one”), jazz music was born from the jostling of the young country’s immigrant cultures, each with its own musical traditions. Photographer Chuck Stewart has captured the country’s top jazz musicians on film for more than four decades, illuminating the music’s heart and soul. This calendar presents twelve Stewart portraits of jazz greats, including Albert Ayler, Jack De Johnette, Bill Henderson, Dianne Reeves, Charles Lloyd, Wynton Kelly, J. J. Johnson, Geri Allen, Jimmy Heath, McCoy Tyner, Wynton Marsalis, and Cassandra Wilson.”
And the note on the Ayler page includes this:
“Along with Ornette Coleman, saxophonist Albert Ayler (1936-1970) was one of the pioneers investigating the farthest reaches of the jazz universe. A risky business, that. Absent any road signs telling him—much less his audience—which way to safely travel, Ayler’s music often led to dark dead ends . . . yet as often led to soaring heights of expression unknowable to those unwilling to take such risk.”
Which seems like an eminently fair assessment. I just wonder whether Wynton Marsalis (Mr. November) would agree. Anyway, thanks to the people at Pomegranate, and what better way to usher in the New Year than hang a picture of Albert on your wall.

pomegranate

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New CDs from ESP

There are a couple of new CDs announced on the ESP site (which seems to change every time I visit it) which may be of interest to Ayler fans. I say ‘may be’ since the site doesn’t go overboard on details. The first is a Don Cherry CD - "Live at the Cafe Montmartre, 1966" which unfortunately doesn’t contain Suite for Albert Ayler but which does come with a free DVD sampler - presumably this is ‘Smorgasbord’ which I mentioned on this site back in April. The second CD is Norman Howard’s “Burn Baby Burn”. Back in September 2005 I posted an email from Roy Morris concerning the mysterious Mr. Howard and the strange tale of how the tapes of the unissued ESP 1073 ended up in Scotland. Now, nearly forty years since they were recorded, they seem to have gone back home.

4033

There’s no track listing for the CD on the ESP site, but there is this comment from Clifford Allen:
“Despite the profound obscurity of Norman Howard’s music, and that of his mate Joe Phillips, it’s crucial as a window not only into the influence that Albert Ayler carried in creative music, but into how the Aylers affected the musicians of their hometown. Most importantly, this reflects on how vital free music has been at the local level, where it remains so to this day.”
Fair enough, I guess, but my own reaction was slightly different when I first heard Howard’s own music (courtesy of Roy Morris), and I felt that his contribution to Witches and Devils should be re-assessed.

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New Additions to the Site

What’s Available page updated for July.

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August 1 2007

News

News from ESP

The revamped ESP site has the following announcement regarding the Holy Ghost box set:

‘July 23rd, 2007
ALBERT AYLER RETURNS TO THE ESP CATALOGUE
Revenant Records and ESP-DISK’ to Jointly Market Grammy Nominated Box Set

New York City, July 23, 2007. Revenant Records has granted ESP-DISK’ exclusive distribution rights to its Grammy Nominated Albert Ayler 9-CD box set entitled Holy Ghost: Rare & Unissued Recordings (1962-70) (RVN213). Ayler, an internationally recognized jazz saxophonist, and protégé of John Coltrane, whose untimely death has been the subject of many conspiracy theories, returns to the ESP catalogue, for which he recorded four groundbreaking albums in the mid-60s.

Commenting upon the alliance, Bernard Stollman, ESP’s founder said that, “ESP provided a unique environment that helped incubate artistically ambitious projects. The Ayler material in the box set draws heavily on Ayler’s most productive period on ESP. Revenant’s empathetic treatment of the material, and our partnership with them has allowed for an exciting exchange of resources between two fiercely independent labels.”’

The same announcement is repeated on the Revenant site.

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ESP also seem to have reached a similar agreement with George Coppens regarding The Hilversum Session. since it appears in the New Releases section of the ESP site as esp4035, due out in September. Although the album has been available from specialist stores and from George Coppens himself, it has never been widely distributed and hopefully the new release will restore its reputation in the Ayler catalogue. After the various line-ups featuring his brother, Don, my favourite Ayler band is the Don Cherry quartet, and given the woeful fact that Ghosts (aka Vibrations) has been absent from the catalogue for some time now, this new release of The Hilversum Session is great news . . . despite ESP’s choice of photograph for the cover (too many bad memories of Demis Roussos to take Albert in a kaftan seriously).

403502

According to the blurb, “The legendary recording, digitally remastered with new artwork, and liners by Russ Musto. Includes free 9.5 x 9.5 pullout poster!” - hopefully not of the cover photo.

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And a final piece of news from ESP - they have entered the world of youtube and myspace and are promising to post “a handful of videos from the 1960’s featuring some of the greatest and most memorable artists from its catalog”. At the moment there’s just a Giuseppi Logan video up there, and something tells me not to hold my breath for one of Albert.

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Ayler Records

Two new Ayler ‘tribute’ CDs from the Swedish label. They’re both download-only releases and can be purchased direct from the Ayler Records site.

Meditations on Albert Ayler
Live at Glenn Miller Café
Recorded in Stockholm, Sweden on March 8, 2007.

‘Meditations on Albert Ayler is Luther Thomas (alto sax), Jair-Rohm Parker Wells (bass) and Tony Bianco (drums). It is not an "Ayler cover band". The music presented is improvised music inspired by the life, music and words of a musician who extended the vocabulary and the scope of the music formerly known as "Jazz".’

The CD was released on July 13th (Albert’s 71st birthday) and comprises two long tracks: “Ghosts / Truth Is Marching In” and “O Store Gud (How Great Thou Art)”.

ayldl-06602
2296102

Zero Point
Plays Albert Ayler
Recorded at Café Jazzorca, Mexico City on September 22, 2006.
Germán Bringas (as, ts), Itzam Cano (b), Gabriel Lauber (dr)

Tracks:

1. Vibrations    2. The Wizard    3 Tune Q     4. Infant Happiness
5. Saints    6. Children    7. Improv 1    8. Improv 2    9. Angels

The following review is from the WNUR site:

“It isn’t often that you hear free jazz from Mexico, but Zero Point, who pay tribute to the music of Albert Ayler, are a surprising  exception. The group was founded by drummer Gabriel Lauber, a Swiss Mexican, and features “Mexico City jazz legend” (as described in the liner notes) German Bringas, who is a proficient pianist, trumpeter, and saxophonist, but sticks to alto and tenor on this album. Rounding out the trio is Itzam Cano, a young Mexican bassist who demonstrates a pension for furious, pulsating improvisation. Yes, the bass might be more loud than usual, but it really works here, putting Cano on an equal footing. Aside from the Ayler tunes, Bringas and Lauber team up for two fiery improvisations of a level of intensity that arguably exceeds that of an Ayler date from the 60’s.” - Mike Szajewski

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My Name Is Albert Ayler

Kasper Collin’s film hits antipodean shores and is being shown (today) at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
It will also be shown on August 10th at Jazz em Agosto in Lisbon, Portugal.

I also came across an interesting review of the film on Dry Ink Magazine by Ryan Mahan, which I don’t think I’ve mentioned before.

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AYLER-MAN

Not sure how long this has been around but I’ve only just come across it on the Joe Lovano site - Albert Ayler in a Harvey Pekar comic: Albert Ayler and Joe Lovano: A Study in Contrasts.

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Abop tv

Obviously no specific Ayler content on this site, but there is a Burton Greene clip and an extract from an Ornette Coleman documentary which I hadn’t seen for forty years, so it’s worth a look.

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And finally...

Just another thing I came across whilst googling and which I thought I’d mention. I remember when David Murray first appeared on the scene there was a lot of talk about him being the new Ayler and I could never see/hear the connection. Turns out I was right. If you scroll down Professor Tim Wall’s Wall of Sound blog there are several posts concerning Murray’s tribute to Ayler, ‘Flowers for Albert’, which explain its origins and dismiss Ayler’s musical influence on Murray.

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New Additions to the Site

The two new releases from Ayler Records have been added to the Versions page.

What’s Available page updated for August.

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September 1 2007

News

healing

Healing Force - “The Songs of Albert Ayler” released

Last year I ran a piece about an extraordinary CD produced by Henry Kaiser featuring versions of the songs of Albert Ayler taken from his late period Impulse albums (so, technically, we should call them the songs of Albert Ayler and Mary Maria). At the time Mr. Kaiser was having problems finding a record company willing to release the session but those problems seem to have been solved and the CD will shortly appear on the Cuneiform label. The following information is taken from the Cuneiform site:

“Seven major figures from the art-punk, free-jazz, brutal prog, improvisational and modern jazz world come together for a ROCKING tribute to the unfairly ignored, misunderstood and vilified late period works of Albert Ayler. These late period songs have always seemed to me like they may have been some of the most personally spritually resonant for Ayler, but the musicians and the culture of the late 1960s were possibly not able to successfully translate and perform his concept of spirituality, free jazz, boogaloo, nursery rhythms, marching bands, blues and r’n’b, and certainly the free-jazz following public was not ready to accept it. Now, 40 years and many stylistic mash-ups later, perhaps these works can be better enjoyed.

‘Albert Ayler’s later works (Love Cry, New Grass and Music is the Healing Force of the Universe) seem to be generally reviled. Through meditations, dreams, and visions, the players on this project were given the message to once again attempt to send the people of earth a message of love, peace, and spiritual understanding. We selected a representative set of tunes for this material and essentially let it play itself through us. We hope you will be as surprised as we still are by the results of this invocational experiment. We hope you will like this record.’ - Henry Kaiser, producer and guitarist.”

I haven’t seen a track list yet, but I presume it’s the same as the demo I heard last December. That list and my initial reaction to the music is buried in the archives. It will be interesting to see what the reviewers make of it and I hope they don’t just dismiss it as another Ayler tribute CD, since I feel it’s a lot more interesting than that.

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My Name Is Albert Ayler

Kasper Collin’s film is scheduled for the following screenings:

U.K.
Brighton: Colour Out Of Space Festival (nice to see someone keeping the Ayler/Lovecraft connection alive), Saturday, 8th September, 12 pm.
Lancaster: Lancaster Jazz Festival, Dukes Cinema, Wednesday, 12th September, 8.15 p.m.
Newcastle-on-Tyne: Star and Shadow Cinema, Sunday, 16th September, 7 p.m. (Followed by a concert at 8.30 p.m. featuring Charles Gayle, William Parker and Mark Sanders.)
Kendal: Brewery Arts Centre, Sunday, 7th October, 8 p.m.

Finland
Oulu: International MUSIXINE Music Film Contest, September 9th-15th (screenings on Thursday 6th and Saturday 8th September.)

Norway
Trondheim: Cinemateket Trondheim, Tuesday, 25th September, 9 p.m.

There’s also a video on the Melbourne Film Festival site of some reactions to the film after last month’s screening.

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Sonny’s Time Now

You’ll have to be quick - the auction ends tomorrow - but if you want to get your hands on a copy of the original Jihad LP of Sonnys Time Now, there’s one on ebay. The bidding was up to $350 the last time I looked. I reckon most of us will have to settle for a picture of the cover and the label:

stnlp02
stnlplabel

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And finally...

Apologies for the seeming lack of Ayler content in this, but if you’ve ever scrolled down the Tributes page and wondered what ‘Albert Ayler (Dying Words)’ by The Western Trio sounded like, then this item on youtube might give you an idea:

elasto

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New Additions to the Site

What’s Available page updated for September.

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October 1 2007

News

My Name Is Albert Ayler wins the MusiXine Main Award

The MusiXine International Music Film Contest was celebrated for the first time in September as part of the Oulu Music Video Festival in Finland and Kasper Collin’s My Name Is Albert Ayler was awarded the first prize (worth 10,000 euros). Further information is available on the MusiXine site, including the jury’s verdict on the winning film:

“My Name is Albert Ayler is a complex and intimate study of one man’s tragically short life in music. A sensitive approach to the subject-matter and relationships explored in the film, combined with judiciously chosen archive material and a captivating editing style, create an emotionally resonant and fascinating portrait of a gifted and innovative jazz artist. An insightful, mature and moving documentary film with a superb soundtrack which ably demonstrates the affinity between music and film. Kasper Collin is one to watch - a deserving award winner.”

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The Hilversum Session

The new ESP release of The Hilversum Session is now available in the shops.

hilversumespfr hilversumespbk

Point of Departure

The current issue of the excellent online free jazz magazine, Point of Departure, has a feature on Paul Haines, whose numerous credits included the booklet issued with the original pressings of Spiritual Unity. He also provided the sleevenotes for the Osmosis LP, Swing Low Sweet Spiritual.

swinglowhaines

Thanks to ebay (again) I’ve added the pictures of the back cover and labels as an addition to the Goin’ Home page of the discography.

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New Additions to the Site

Healing Force: The Songs of Albert Ayler added to the Versions page.

I came across David Meeker’s A Jazz and Blues Filmography online and found a couple of films which have Ayler tunes on the soundtrack, so I’ve added these to the Filmography.

What’s Available page updated for October.

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November 1 2007

News

Donald Ayler
(5th October 1942 - 21st October 2007)

donal02

Richard Koloda emailed me on Monday with the sad news of the death of Donald Ayler. The funeral was held on Tuesday and Richard kindly sent this report:

“Don Ayler suffered a sudden heart attack on Sunday October 21st, and passed away very quickly at the home he had been in, in Northfield Ohio. Because of the suddenness of the death, an autopsy was done. I had found out on October 29th, when my friend Imam Shaheed called me at work.

The funeral was held at 11 am on October 30th. It was a sunny day, and moderately warm at 62 degrees. Don was buried in Section 27, lot 200, Grave 3. He was buried next to his mother (his brother is buried in the miltary section). The hearse from Nesbitt Funeral Home arrived, as did the few mourners. I met his cousins Claytene Wright, Sandra Wright, and Robert Johnson. His father was present, as was his niece Desiree and his nephew, Curtis Roundtree. Among the friends (besides myself), were his two guardians, Kerry Formica and a young man named Jude Troha. The other friends present were Joe Phillips’ brother, Imam Mutawef Shaheed, Robert Taylor (a Cleveland discjockey), Carrie Roundtree, and Al Rollins.

The coffin was lifted from the hearse by the pallbearers; myself, Imam Shaheed, Al Rollins, Bob Taylor, the funeral director, and I believe the other pall bearer was Robert Johnson, or Mr. Phillips. The coffin and its contents were quite light during the short walk to the plot. A Reverend Girney read a brief passage from Romans, along with the standard, ‘it was his time according to God’s will’. The funeral director opened the casket at the head one final time, and moved the cloth covering Don’s face. We filed past one final time paiyng our respects. Don looked at peace. He was wearing a gray sweater and dark pants. We silently said a final prayer, and the funeral director placed the cloth back over his face and closed the coffin. We said our final prayers, each of us placing a red rose over the coffin. We watched it lowered into the grave, and the lid placed over the vault. We departed taking our memories of a fun guy.”

Our Prayer

by Donald Ayler

(from Albert Ayler in Greenwich Village)

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Night Work

nightwork

Night Work by Steve Hamilton has just been published in the States and is due to be published over here in the UK next March. It’s a crime thriller in the style of Hamilton’s acclaimed ‘Alex McKnight’ series but featuring a new lead character; probation officer, Joe Trumbull. And why, you may be wondering, am I telling you all this? Because Joe Trumbull (like his creator, Steve Hamilton), is a big Albert Ayler fan. As far as I know (and I may be mistaken in this, if so, please drop me a line), this is the first time that Ayler’s name has drifted into popular, mainstream fiction. Authors are a bit cagey about dropping names into their work which will bounce off the heads of most of their readers and it shows courage on Mr. Hamilton’s part that he didn’t go for someone more recognisable (Jamie Cullum perhaps). In fact the first jazzman who gets a mention is Peter Brötzmann on page 3:
“I needed something huge, so I pulled out Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun. It’s a blistering assault on the ears, with eight of Europe’s strongest free jazz players going at it back in 1968 like it was the end of the world. Owning this album is probably illegal in many states.”
But it’s Albert who gets the most mentions and acts as a kind of tragic leitmotif through the book (pretentious, moi?). No, I don't want to overstate the case. It's a straight ahead, no nonsense thriller, but, for me at least, the jazz references make it a bit special (I had a similar response to that Russell Mulcahy film, Blue Ice). Anyway, I’m not going to review Night Work - I don’t want to give anything away - but there are plenty of synopses and reviews online and there’s Steve Hamilton’s own site and even a clip on youtube with him giving a tour of Kingston N.Y. where the book is set. Hopefully it will be a great success and will bring some new ears to the wonderful world of Albert Ayler.

***

Another piece of the jigsaw

Kees Hazevoet sent me this link to an item on youtube. For those who are still wondering where Albert got his sound and puzzling over the GoinHome CD, check out

Evangelist Rosie Haynes
Queen of the Gospel Saxophone

***

My Name Is Albert Ayler - U.S. Theatrical Premiere

Kasper Collin’s documentary opens its tour of the States at New York’s Anthology Film Archives where it will play from Thursday, November 8th to Wednesday, November 14th. Screenings are at 7 pm and 9 pm with additional screenings on Saturday and Sunday at 5 pm. Between November and March the film will be shown in 12 to15 American cities, among them Los Angeles, Austin, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Athens, Detroit and Winnipeg (in Canada). Full schedule to be announced shortly on the film’s website.

***

Sunny Murray and Henry Grimes

Henry Grimes is currently on tour in Europe (including a couple of gigs in the UK - 21st November in Leeds, 22nd and 23rd at the University of Gloucestershire) and full details are available on his website. From 13th to 18th November he’s part of Sunny Murray’s New Change of the Century Orchestra which is playing dates in Paris and Luxembourg and being filmed for a documentary by Antoine Prum, provisionally titled, “Sunny’s Time Now”. Also included in the 12-piece line-up is another former Ayler sideman, pianist, Bobby Few.

***

Bells - not the LP

Bells was an internationally-circulated newsletter-review about free jazz which was edited by Henry Kuntz. It ran from 1973 to ‘79 and it’s now being reprinted on the metropolis site. It includes several items about Ayler: reviews of Vibrations (Ghosts), Prophecy, Nuits de la Fondation Maeght (this by Jack Cooke who doesn’t seem to like Call Cobbs’ contribution too much - I never had that problem) and The Village Concerts.

***

New Additions to the Site

Night Work by Steve Hamilton added to the Bibliography.

What’s Available page updated for November.

***

November 11 2007

News

Donald Ayler - obituaries

The obituaries are trickling in, although I’ve found nothing in the major newspapers:

The Wire
Jazz Times

I also came across Eugene Chadbourne’s assessment of Don on the allmusic site, which is also carried, rather ironically, on the Verve/Impulse site.

There are also mentions of Don’s death on various jazz blogs and boards. One comment which did appeal to me, despite its bluntness, was the following on the ILX.com site:

“He was mad and couldn't play -- and still managed to contribute enormously to some of the greatest jazz recordings ever.”

***

My Name Is Albert Ayler in New York

The first proper run for Kasper Collin’s film in the U.S. at New York’s Anthology Film Archives has sparked a number of reviews:

The New York Times
The New Yorker
Village Voice
Time Out New York
Washington Square News
Bloomberg.com (Mike Zwerin’s review is also available on his own site.)

***

November 17 2007

News

Donald Ayler - obituaries

The Guardian printed an obituary of Donald, written by Val WIlmer, on Friday, 16th. November. Available online.

{Thanks to Neville Young of the International Trumpet Guild for alerting me to this via the Message board - which by this time of year is hidden far below. Of all the British newspapers I was expecting the Guardian to include an obituary for Don and it’s fitting that they got Val Wilmer to write it, considering her close involvement with the Ayler story through the years.)

***

My Name Is Albert Ayler - US dates

Kasper Collin’s film will be showing in Cleveland today and tomorrow (at the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Cinematheque), which should be quite an emotional experience following Don’s death. The details of this and the other screenings in the States and Canada are as follows:

Cleveland Cinemateque, Cleveland Ohio: November 17th 7 pm, 18th 8.55 pm.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Austin Texas: November 19th 9.45 pm, 21st 10pm, 26th 7pm. (The film’s website also lists December 2nd, but this isn’t confirmed on the cinema’s site.)
Winnipeg Cinematheque, Winnipeg, Canada: November 23rd to 25th, 7pm.
Guild Cinema, Albuquerque, New Mexico: December 3rd to 6th.

And there’s another review of the film in the New York Sun.

***

Dark Meat

My Name Is Albert Ayler was also shown at the Athens Cine Arthaus, Athens, Georgia on November 15th and 16th and the screenings were preceded by a local band, Dark Meat, performing ‘a special set of Albert Ayler jazz’. I wish I’d caught this earlier since there’s an interview with Kasper Collin conducted by Dark Meat’s co-founder, Jim McHugh, on flagpole.com.

There’s an article about the band on the Creative Loafing site and a review of their CD, Universal Indians (“dedicated to the Holy Ghost of Albert Ayler”) on the Dusted magazine site.

***

Ken Waxman’s Jazz Word

Ken Waxman asked me to add a link to his Jazz Word site and I thought I’d also mention it here since it is a vast collection of reviews of free jazz and improvisation. Of specific interest to Ayler fans are his reviews of The Copenhagen Tapes, New Grass and Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe.

***

November 24 2007

News

Donald Ayler - obituaries

Maarten Derksen sent me a link to the Dutch magazine, JazzFlits, the current issue of which has an obituary of Donald Ayler written by Han Schulte. Mr. Schulte also wrote the extensive article ‘De schreeuw van Albert Ayler’ for Jazz Nu in 1980, which is available on this site.

The Tiny Mix Tapes site has a brief obituary.

***

The Guardian

I do find it rather disappointing that the only major newspaper that has marked Don’s passing seems to be the U.K.’s Guardian. Even the Cleveland Plain Dealer has chosen to ignore it. Although Val WIlmer’s obituary is available online, that doesn’t give an idea of the prominence given to it in the actual paper (almost half a page), so I’ve taken the liberty of scanning the original. Click the picture to get a readable image.

Last week The Guardian also ran a feature on “1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die”. Artists were limited to one album each and Albert Ayler did make the cut - although, inevitably, it was Spiritual Unity:
“It’s sometimes difficult to remember that Ayler is playing a sax on this brutal trio session - you’d sometimes swear he was a heavy metal guitarist, or a Gypsy fiddler. Yet, for all this primal intensity, there’s a bluesy, melodic sensibility and an inner calm that makes it a thing of beauty.”

donobitlt

***

My Name Is Albert Ayler

Kasper Collin’s film was shown at the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Cinematheque last Saturday with the director in attendance. Richard Koloda was also there and sent me this report:

“The Cinematheque was well attended. I was especially glad that the film was released so that AA's family could see how much he was appreciated by the attendees. I saw Edward Ayler, his wife, cousins Sandra Wright, Claytene Wright and others such as Joe Phillips (who flew in from Florida), Mustafa Phillips, Mutawef Shaheed and Al Rollins. Kasper introduced several of us prior to the showing - Mr. Ayler, Imam Shaheed, and myself. The film was tremendously well received - unfortunately no Cleveland papers mentioned it.”

There’s a review of the film on the Termite Art site (just before To Trap A Spy) which is a lot better than the review in the Winnipeg Sun. The latter confirms the reservations I expressed about the film back in June. If you know the background to the Ayler story then you can take certain editing and narrative decisions of Kasper Collin with a pinch of salt. If you know nothing about Ayler and accept the film at face value then you can end up with a rather skewed vision of Ayler like our Canadian cousin: “In addition to the requisite troubles with drugs and women, Ayler also got caught up in a weird branch of spiritualism that prompted him to spend long periods literally staring out into the sun.” He also mentions the “copious performance clips on display” in the film. ‘Copious’ is not a word I would use. No criticism of Kasper Collin intended here, since I know the situation regarding the Fondation Maeght documentary and I still don’t know how he managed to get hold of the clip from 1966, but you do wonder whether Ayler neophytes get the impression from Collin’s clever editing of the brief clip of 1966 footage that there’s a whole load of original Ayler material on film. There’s also a mention of the film on the Mondrian’s Sketchbook blog which gives some idea of the difficulties Collin faced in getting the film made - it took him two years to get Mary Maria to consent to a phone interview!

***

Healing Force

Jeff Stockton reviews the recently released Healing Force: the songs of Albert Ayler alongside two other Ayler tribute CDs and The Hilversum Session on the All About Jazz site.

There’s also a fascinating review of Healing Force by Henry Kuntz on the Metropolis site, linking it back to the spiritual element in Ayler’s music.

And the Audiversity blog has another laudatory review of Healing Force.

***

December 1 2007

News

Donald Ayler

As we head into December it seems unlikely that there will be any more obituaries for Donald in the regular press but the news of his death continues to ripple through the internet:

The Soul and the System

Streams of Expression

***

My Name Is Albert Ayler

There’s another review of Kasper Collin’s film in Winnipeg’s Uptown magazine and it also received a passing mention in last Sunday’s Observer in an article by Jason Solomons about film awards.

Screenings in December:
U.S.
Guild Cinema, Albuquerque, New Mexico: December 3rd to 6th.
MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts: December 6th. (Free Jazz Double Feature, showing at the Bartos Theatre at 6 pm with Shirley Clarke’s Ornette Made in America)
England:
ICA, London: December 22nd, 27th, 29th. Documentaries of the Year season.

***

Albert Ayler at Christmas

Not one of those dodgy festive compilation CDs from Poundland (unfortunately) but just a roundup of Ayler related gift ideas. I'm only doing this because although this year has been a bit sparse for legitimate Ayler reissues - only The Hilversum Session from ESP - there have been a number of interesting items with an Ayler link.

A Calendar

Everybody needs a calendar, so why not buy the 2008 Classic Jazz Calendar from Pomegranate.com which features Albert Ayler on the January page. So, start the New Year with... no I can’t keep this up. I could never get a job on a shopping channel.

pomegranatelt
nightwrklt02

A Book

Steve Hamilton’s Night Work is a neat crime thriller with a hero who’s a probation officer and a free jazz fan. Perhaps the first time Albert Ayler has been mentioned in mainstream fiction.

A CD

A perfect gift for that aged relative who has every Ayler album in his/her collection, this release from Cuneiform Records is the pick of the crop of Ayler tribute CDs. Henry Kaiser's reworking of the late Impulse material sheds new light on that 'controversial' period of Ayler's music.

healingforcelt02
espsamplerdvd02
doncherrymont

... and a partridge in a pear tree

Now this one’s strange. Back in April the ESP site was announcing the release of a sampler DVD featuring extracts from every album released by the label - 240 tracks, 12 hours of music, but then it disappeared from the catalog and turned up as a bonus disc with the Don Cherry release “Live at Cafe Montmartre 1966”. I have no idea why ESP decided to bury it like this, but it does mean that the Don Cherry CD (which is great in its own right - although I would have preferred the other 1966 date which includes the Suite for Albert Ayler which I put on this site last December) is one of the best bargains around.

There are 13 Ayler extracts on the disc:
Ghosts: first variation and The Wizard from Spiritual Unity
Bells from Bells
AY and ITT from New York Eye and Ear Control
Spirits Rejoice and Holy Family from Spirits Rejoice
Spirits and Prophecy from Prophecy
The Truth Is Marching In and Our Prayer from Live at Slug’s
Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe and Birth of Mirth from Live on the Riviera

As for the other artists on the disc - check the ESP back catalog, or the bigger picture below. There’s even a couple of songs from Charles Manson. And we must never forget Yma Sumac. As I said, it’s strange.

***

New Additions to the Site

Details of the ESP sampler DVD added to the Compilations page.

What’s Available page updated for December.

***

December 15 2007

News

Skeeter Hancock

Richard Koloda emailed to let me know he's interviewing Skeeter Hancock this Monday (17th Dec.) on WSCB 89.3FM at 3 - 5 pm (EST).

Don't worry if the name rings no bells, but Skeeter Hancock was there when one of the major events in Ayler history occurred, playing drums alongside Imam Shaheed (Clyde Shy) on bass, Charles Tyler on alto, and, for the first time in public, Albert Ayler on tenor and Donald Ayler on trumpet, at a house party in Cleveland on New Year's Eve, 1964.

According to Richard's book, Don claimed that the house burned down the next day. I would just love to believe that.

***

Donald Ayler

The International Trumpet Guild has an obituary of Don Ayler in the news section of their site.

Time Out New York has a follow-up to their review of "My Name Is Albert Ayler" about Don's passing. It also links to another blog site, Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches which has an mp3 of The African Song from Don Ayler's In Florence, Volume 1.

There's also a nice tribute to Don on the Vanishing Signs blog.

***

December 18 2007

News

Skeeter Hancock interview postponed

Richard Koloda’s interview with Skeeter Hancock has had to be postponed due to the current blizzard conditions in the States. It should now take place next Monday, 24th December (Christmas Eve) on WSCB 89.3FM.

***

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