Something Different!!!!!

My Name Is Albert Ayler


Swing Low Sweet Spiritual


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Spirits Rejoice

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La Cave Live

At Slug’s Saloon

Live In Europe 1964-66

Stockholm, Berlin 1966

Lorrach/Paris 1966

Lost Performances

In Greenwich Village

Love Cry

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Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe

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Nuits De La Fondation Maeght


Holy Ghost


Complete List

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Don Ayler Discography

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The Inconsistency of
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News from 2009

January 1 2009


Homeboy Music

Happy New Year! I did think that would be the sum total of this month’s news but yesterday I received an email from Roy Morris about the relaunch of his Homeboy Music label. If you remember, Roy was responsible for rescuing the tapes of some Norman Howard sessions and negotiating their release on the ESP label. Not only did this fill an awkward gap in the ESP catalog (ESP 1073), it also shed some further light on Albert Ayler’s Witches & Devils (or should that be Norman Howard’s Witches and Devils?) Now he’s turned his attention to Joe Rigby and Arthur Doyle with two new releases on the Homeboy Music label. Arthur Doyle, of course, is well-known and has a fairly extensive discography but this release from Homeboy Music, Nature Boy, is a recording of Arthur Doyle’s first group recorded in 1972.

I’d never heard of Joe Rigby at all until Roy’s interview appeared in the Paris Transatlantic magazine back in October 2006 (reproduced on the Homeboy Music site) and listening to Praise (a recording of a 2007 rehearsal session) one wonders at the current state of the recording industry and the ‘jazz world’ in general. Joe Rigby is a phenomenal saxophonist and deserves to be better known.

Although I tend to have a very narrow focus on this site, bemoaning the disappearance of odd Ayler records from the catalogue (surely somebody could rerelease Ghosts this year), it is salutary to be reminded now and again that there are musicians out there, Ayler’s contemporaries (Joe Rigby was born in 1940, only four years after Albert), still fighting the good fight and filling the air with that first elemental blast of free jazz, but still being criminally ignored by the major labels. All power to Roy Morris and his Homeboy Music enterprise.


Last year’s ‘What’s New’ page has been archived.


February 1 2009


Joe McPhee - Albert Ayler Tribute 2008

Bill Schmidt let me know about this, a recording from Joe McPhee’s recent Albert Ayler Tribute European tour, available for download here. I’m not sure whether it’s been sanctioned by Mr. McPhee (apologies if not) but I reckon since it includes CD cover artwork (with the disclaimer “Trade Freely, Not for Sale”) it should be added to the Tributes page. The band consists of Joe McPhee (saxes), Roy Campbell (trumpet), William Parker (bass) and Warren Smith (drums) and the session was recorded at Club W 71, Weikersheim, Germany, on November 6th 2008. Although the band does not play Ayler tunes as such (there are odd quotes here and there) they do manage to capture the spirit of Ayler and it’s well worth a listen. More information about Joe McPhee is available on his website, and you should also check out Roy Campbell’s site.


Albert Ayler - Guardian Angel


Thanks go to Guy Kopelowicz for letting me know about this one. A new novel by French sci-fi author, Maurice G. Dantec, called Comme le Fantome d'un Jazzman dans la Station Mir en Déroute (‘Like the Ghost of a Jazzman in the Wayfaring Mir Station’ - thanks again to Guy for the translation). Albert Ayler is the Jazzman in question. There’s a lot of information online about the book, unfortunately all in French. As I think I’ve said before if they’re not opening portes or closing fenetres I’m lost, so you can have a go at translating the blurb on this picture of M. Dantec from his website.


There's also a video trailer for the book which unfortunately ends with some footage of (I think) Coltrane (definitely not Albert). Several of Maurice Dantec’s books have been translated into English, notably Babylon Babies, which was filmed last year as Babylon A.D. starring Vin Diesel and the wonderful Michelle Yeoh (I’d like to see Kate Winslet do a motorbike jump onto a moving train). So, let’s hope an English version of Comme le Fantome d'un Jazzman dans la Station Mir en Déroute is forthcoming then we can all find out what the ghost of Albert Ayler is doing on the Mir space station.


My Name Is Albert Ayler - Third Best Film of 2008

Max Goldberg of the San Francisco Bay Guardian placed Kasper Collin’s film at number three in his list of the 10 Best Films of 2008, published in the San Francisco Film Society’s SF360.

The film’s website has the following U.S. screenings listed:

Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
Buffalo, New York. February 19, 2009.

Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative
Charlottesville, Virginia. February 19, 2009.


An Unchronological Approach to Albert Ayler - the Jessamine Vine Blog

To understand the music of Albert Ayler - or to get to some point where you think you may have an understanding of the music of Albert Ayler - you have to take a chronological approach. You need to buy the Holy Ghost box and start with the U.S. Army band and go through the Finnish sessions and the early experiments in Scandinavia and so on until you end up in France. Throw in some biographical information and you should have an inkling as to what the ten year journey was all about. But, of course, no one ever does that. We come to Ayler at different times, our first encounters usually accidental. So, I heard Love Cry first, then In Greenwich Village, then Ghosts. By the time I got to Spiritual Unity I felt it lacked something (a trumpet maybe) and I've never been as enthusiastric about the classic Ayler Trio as I feel I ought to be. I'm not sure whether Ayler is unique in this respect, given the relatively short period of his recorded output combined with the radical changes in his music. So, it's interesting to read an unchronological response to Ayler, which is what the Jessamine Vine blog is doing. Read it, it's quite fascinating. Just remember to scroll down to the first entry and read it in chronological order - I thought I should add that in case you're as daft as I am.


March 1 2009

A slow month for Ayler news - almost stationary in fact. Just a passing mention of Ayler in relation to Britney Spears and the current worldwide recession courtesy of a link on the Jessamine Vine blog. So, here's the alternate take of Spirits from Spiritual Unity:

Spirits - alternate take


April 1 2009

News of the site

Apologies to anyone trying to access the site during the last few days - I’ve been switching website hosts. The only major change is that now the home page of the site is at the www.ayler.org address - it doesn’t need the /albert extension. I’d like to thank Grainger Reece for sharing the costs of the site for the past four years.

Checkling the site for dead links I came across a couple of items which no longer seem to be available online. Nat Hentoff’s 1966 interview with Albert and Don Ayler was on the Downbeat site but now seems to have disappeared, so I’ve taken the liberty of adding it to the Interviews section in the archives. Richard Williams’ article ‘Blowing in the Wind’, published in The Guardian in November 2000 on the 30th anniversary of Albert’s death, also seems to have disappeared. I have a hard copy somewhere which I’ll have to dig out and transfer to the site. Finally, the four-part Ayler Tribute radio show is no longer on the ESP site, which has gone through yet another revamp. However, I emailed the ESP website manager and he has assured me he will put it back online.soon. As I was searching around for the ESP programme I came across another one which I don’t think I’ve mentioned before. It dates back to December 25th, 2004, broadcast on WFIU Public Radio, and was linked to the release of the Holy Ghost box set. It’s still available online:

Holy Ghost: Albert Ayler on Night Lights hosted by David Brent Johnson



Ayler mentioned on The Colbert Report

Matt Weston emailed to say that Albert Ayler was mentioned on ‘The Colbert Report’ on February 9th during an interview with the band, TV on the Radio. They cited Ayler as an influence. The interview is available online but not if you live in Britain (and presumably anywhere else outside the States), so I haven’t seen it.


Jazz Studies Online

The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University has just launched a new website, Jazz Studies Online, which promises to be a major resource for students of jazz. John Szwed (author of the excellent Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra) is the Editor-in-Chief of the project. At the moment there's not much about Ayler on there but it's early days yet. In the meantime if you dig around you'll find an interesting article about Jimmy Giuffre by Graham Lock, and some complete issues of The Jazz Review.


Alternate or different

Last month, due to a dearth of Ayler activity, I added the ‘alternate version of Spirits’ from the first pressings of Spiritual Unity to the site. This prompted a message from Dikko Faust on the message board and an email from Kees Hazevoet, both pointing out that rather than being an alternate version of Spirits, it is in fact an entirely different tune. Kees reckons that this 'alternate version' being the original Spirits should be listed as such in the Ayler discography, whereas the replacement, being a different tune altogether should be listed as 'unknown title', despite it appearing on all subsequent pressings and reissues of Spiritual Unity as Spirits. Kees also asked if I knew why the track was changed and I had to admit I had no idea. Does anybody know?


Ole Brask (1935 - 2009)

And I have to thank Kees Hazevoet again for forwarding the following message from Dan Morgenstern from the Jazz Research yahoo group:

“I’ve learned that the fine Danish photographer Ole Brask (b. 1935) died March 23 in Copenhagen; he had been hospitalized with cirrhosis. A jazz fan from his ’teens, he first came to the US in 1959 and quickly befriended many jazz musicians. He worked as an assistant to Richard Avedon and later for CBS News as a cameraman on many and wide-ranging assignments, but his true love as a photographer and man was jazz. We worked together on Jazz People (1976), and Milt Hinton wrote an introduction to his collection of jazz photos published in 1998. He was among those of us who persuaded Ben Webster that he would be OK in Europe, and was very close to the great tenorman; he also assisted Timme Rosenkrantz in bringing Stuff Smith to Denmark. Though his range of jazz subjects included Albert Ayler (great shot of Ayler and his group in front of Slugs) and Don Cherry, and Bill Evans (with wife and newborn son), his heart was with the mainstreamers, and as they vanished, bit by bit, from the scene, Ole withdrew from the active jazz scene, and put his cameras away. He was, among other things, superb at darkroom work.”

Ayler Slugs 196505

[click the picture for a larger version]


April 5 2009

Just a note to clear up (hopefully) the ‘alternate version of Spirits’ question. I’ve always tried to avoid the problems associated with Ayler tune titles and have listed them in the discography and sessionography as they appear on the record sleeves. With regard to the two different versions of Spirits on Spiritual Unity, since neither version corresponds to the track known as Spirits elsewhere, the first version (the one on the initial pressings) being the same tune as Vibrations on Ghosts and The Copenhagen Tapes, the second version (the replacement) appearing as Saints on Witches & Devils and The Copenhagen Tapes, I think all one can do is add a note in the discography and sessionography to that effect, lest we be overrun with worms.


May 1 2009


Henry Grimes in England and on the radio

Henry Grimes, bassist on Witches & Devils, Goin’ Home, Spirits Rejoice, Sonny’s Time Now and In Greenwich Village, is appearing at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival on May 2nd (tomorrow!). Don’t panic though because the BBC is recording his two appearances. The first is an interview with Alyn Shipton for BBC Radio 3’s Jazz Library programme, which will be broadcast later in the month. After the interview session, Henry Grimes is then appearing with the Profound Sound Trio (Paul Dunmall, saxophone; Henry Grimes, bass; Andrew Cyrille, drums) and the concert will be broadcast by the BBC on its Jazz on 3 programme. The BBC schedule doesn't go that far yet, but I will add an update to this page when the details are finalised and again when the programmes are available on the internet.


On Tuesday, May 5th from 6 to 9 p.m. (New York time), the Henry Grimes/Leo Lindberg/Brandon Ross trio concert played on April 15th at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn will be broadcast and webcast on Jazz Alternatives on WKCR 89.9 FM as part of WKCR’s New York Music Alive series.


Happy Birthday Marc Ribot

And Henry Grimes also features in the week-long celebration of Marc Ribot’s 55th birthday (I think I got some dvds and a packet of pipe cleaners). On Wednesday, May 13th Marc Ribot’s Spiritual Unity quartet (Roy Campbell, trumpet; Marc Ribot, guitar; Henry Grimes, bass; Chad Taylor, drums) will be playing at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, New York.


Vision Festival

And since we’ve now moved from Cheltenham to New York, I thought I should mention that two other Ayler alumni are performing at this year’s Vision Festival. Sunny Murray is appearing with his quartet (Odeon Pope, saxophone; Sabir Mateen, saxophone, flute; Lee Smith, bass; Sunny Murray, drums) on Thursday, June 11th and Milford Graves is appearing with his quartet (Grant Langford, saxophone; D.D. Jackson, piano; William Parker, bass; Milford Graves, drums) on Saturday, June 13th. There are also a couple of appearances by Henry Grimes - June 10th with Marshall Allen and June 13th, a solo concert featuring poetry and violin. And finally, Roy Campbell’s Ayler Project (Roy Campbell, trumpet; Joe McPhee, saxophone and trumpet; William Parker, bass; Warren Smith, drums) takes to the stage on Friday, June 12th. Full details on the Vision Festival website.


My Name Is Albert Ayler

Kasper Collin’s film is being shown in Sheffield tonight and tomorrow (May 2nd at 8:45 p.m.) at the Showroom Cinema. The next screening listed on the film’s website is September 15th at the Sonja Haynes Center for Black Culture and History in North Carolina. I wonder if this means the film festival circuit is drying up and we might be getting the dvd soon - it was first announced last July for an autumn 2008 release.

And talking of dvds - shameless plug with no connection to Albert Ayler - I thought I’d just mention that Ten Dead Men is released in the U.K. this month on dvd - my eldest son, Chris, wrote the screenplay.


Alternate Spirits - the final word

On the vexed question of the two versions of Spirits on Spiritual Unity (neither of which corresponds to the tune called Spirits on other Ayler albums), Christopher Trent got in touch to add to the confusion:

I’ve been puzzled for a long time by the two versions of “Spirits” on Spiritual Unity, ever since accidentally discovering that I had been listening to a different (mid-tempo) version than that which one or two friends had on their LPs.

One of the copies I acquired has an interesting centre label - scan attached. I’ve seen several such ESP copies - all are in the black- background-white-image version of the cover, and all have the West End Avenue ESPDisk address. ‘Spirits (Transfiguration)’ is the second, dirge, version - the matrix number on this LP side is ESPM 1002 B.

I’ve never seen the “Transfiguration” title mentioned in print, as far as I can remember, nor come across any online references to it. My guess is that it isn’t actually Albert’s, more likely a retrospective attempt by ESPDisk to clear up the titling muddles, probably to differentiate their ‘Spirits’ from that on the Debut LP.

This ESPDisk history implies that a “West End Avenue” centre label is from 1973-5.

This LP isn’t the only one which ESPDisk issued in different variants, without any announcing they were doing so. There are (for instance) three distinct mixes of side A of ESP1017 - Sun Ra’s Heliocentric Worlds Vol II, another really important album in terms of the history of this music. I find it really fascinating that while arguments were raging over Ayler and Ra in the late 60s, different protagonists were unknowingly talking about different music!”


Looking through some old copies of Jazz Monthly from 1967 I came across exactly the same discussion about Spirits, so we don’t seem to have progressed much in the last 40 years. In an attempt to clear up the matter once and for all I emailed Bernard Stollman at ESP since I reckoned if anyone knew why the two versions of Spirits were switched, it would be him. This is his reply:

“I haven’t a clue. This question has been raised in recent years, but I cannot shed any light today on how this occurred.”

So, that’s it. Presumably in 2049 somebody else will be wondering why there are two versions of Spirits on Spiritual Unity, neither of which is Spirits, as he flies around with his jetpack. I wish him luck.


Talking of ESP and Spiritual Unity, Bill Schmidt alerted me to the following item of apparel that can be purchased from that establishment. It is spiffy.


Bells and Spiritual Unity - no stars!!!

Many, many thanks to Pierre Crépon who has sent me a load of stuff for the archives. So far I’ve transcribed a number of items from Down Beat:

Reviews of My Name Is Albert Ayler, Spiritual Unity, Bells, Spirits Rejoice, In Greenwich Village and Love Cry.

Reviews of three New York concerts:
The full review of the Town Hall concert of 1st May 1965 at which Bells was recorded (until now I’ve only had the extract from the sleevenotes on the site).
A review of the Slugs’ line-up at the Village Vanguard in May 1966.
And a review of the Village Theater concert of 26th February 1967, which was recorded for the various Impulse Greenwich Village albums.

And an article by Henry Woodfin from November 1966 entitled, ‘Whither Albert Ayler?’

Whither indeed? I find these initial responses to Ayler's music quite fascinating, particularly the hostility of some of the record reviews. Pete Welding in particular must have been wandering down the road to Damascus at some point since he awards Bells no stars and three years later gives In Greenwich Village the maximum five.

Pierre also sent me the photos below which he came across in Russian Jazz: New Identity by Leo Feigin (Quartet Books, 1986). I have a vague memory (I could leave it there) of some mention of Don Ayler meeting up with some Russian musicians when he was in Florence in 1981, but I had no idea it was the Ganelin Trio.



May 14 2009

Henry Grimes on the radio

The Profound Sound Trio gig from the Cheltenham Festival was broadcast on Monday on BBC Radio 3’s Jazz on 3 programme - and of course I missed it. But it is still available online.

The interview with Henry Grimes is due to be broadcast on May 23rd. I’ll try to remember to add a link to that when it becomes available on the BBC site.


May 26 2009

Henry Grimes on the radio ... again

Alyn Shipton’s interview with Henry Grimes, recorded at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, is now available online for the next few days. An edited version is also available to download as a podcast.


June 1 2009


Sunny Murray Film

Apologies for the late news again, but the documentary film about Sunny Murray (which I gave a passing mention to back in November 2007) was released last December. It’s called Sunny’s Time Now, was directed by Antoine Prum and has a running time of 108 minutes. The following description of the film is on the distributor’s site:

“The documentary feature Sunny’s Time Now retraces the longstanding career of avant-garde drummer Sunny Murray, one of the most influential figures of the Free jazz revolution. Through a series of interviews with key time witnesses as well as historic and contemporary concert footage, it reassesses the relationship between the libertarian music movement and the political events of the 1960s, whose social claims it so intimately reflected. By doing so, it also recounts how the most radical forms of musical expression were excluded from the major production and distribution networks as the libertarian ideal went out of fashion.

Beyond its historical approach, the film follows Sunny Murray on current gigs, showing his daily struggle to perpetuate a musical genre which is still widely ignored by the general public. In doing so, Sunny’s time now also dwells on the near- clandestine community of aficionados who continue to worship the gods of their musical coming of age, and whose unfaltering support has permitted free improvisational music – of which Sunny Murray is one of the last Mohicans – to live on.

Cast: Tony Bevan, Daniel Caux, Delfeil de Ton, Bobby Few, Ekkehard Jost, Grachan Moncur III, Fritz Novotny, Edwin Pouncey, Tony Herrington, William Parker, Sonny Simmons, Cecil Taylor, François Tusques, Val Wilmer, Robert Wyatt, a.o.”


The film was shown in London at the I.C.A. on April 18th, promoted by The Wire, but I haven’t come across news of future screenings yet. Presumably you’ll find it at your local Film Festival rather than your local Odeon.


Spiritual Unity on vinyl

ESP have reissued a limited vinyl edition Spiritual Unity. 1000 copies have been pressed and 20 of these have been signed by Bernard Stollman and have been offered for auction on ebay.


Don Byas

No connection to Albert Ayler but I thought I’d mention a project that Kees Hazevoet, a good friend to this site, has been working on. A discography of the tenor player Don Byas, who left America and eventually settled in Kees’ native Holland in the 1950s. It’s available online (in two parts) and Kees welcomes any comments, additions or suggestions.

Don Byas, American recordings, 1938-1946

Don Byas, European recordings, 1946-1972


News of the site

Book covers

Many thanks to Jean-Pierre.Poirette for sending pictures of the covers of four Ayler-related books which are listed in the Bibliography. The four are: Albert Ayler Disappeared by F.A. Nettelbeck, La Marseillaise by Marc-Edouard Nabe, Mélopée for Albert Ayler the Magnificent by André Verdet (illustrations by Jean Miotte) and Suite pour Albert Ayler by Zéno Bianu. Click the pictures below for the larger versions.

nettelbacklt02 melopeelt02 marseillaiselt02

More from France

I’m still working through the material which Pierre Crépon sent last month - now in the process of transcribing record reviews and articles from the French journals, Jazz Magazine and Jazz Hot - however there are three items which deserve to be highlighted here rather than hidden in the archives.

NEW THING - New York 1966 from Jazz Hot No. 274.

A photo feature on John Coltrane’s funeral from Jazz Hot No. 280.

An account of the Albert Ayler Memorial Concert held in Cleveland on 11th April, 1971 from Jazz Hot No. 273.


A Guide to The 1966 European Tour by Dikko Faust

This is something I would never dare attempt myself, so hearty congratulations to Dikko Faust for taking the recordings of Ayler’s 1966 European tour with all their discographical anomalies and trying to make some sense of Albert’s tunes. Dikko originally posted it on the message board but I’ve copied it across to the Appreciations of Ayler page in the Music section of the site. I know Dikko would like to get some feedback on his work so if you have any comments go to the message board and you’ll find Dikko’s latest post in the ‘Albert Ayler as Composer’ thread. And if you’re wondering who this Dikko Faust guy is - well here’s a video.


Henry Grimes podcast

Since the podcast of Alyn Shipton’s interview with Henry Grimes, recorded at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, seems to have disappeared from the BBC site, I’ve added it to the Interviews page in the archives.


Versions and Tributes

And a couple of additions to the Versions and Tributes pages:

A 2005 (up to date as usual and thanks again to Pierre Crépon for the information) solo baritone sax CD called Catapult by Mats Gustafsson which features a fascinating track which combines Gunde Johansson’s Torparvisa with Ayler’s ‘Angels’. Fascinating because, as Mats Gustafsson explains in the sleevenotes:

‘”Torparvisa" was given to me by the late and great Bengt "Frippe" Nordström. He told me that this Swedish folktune inspired Albert Ayler to write "Ghosts" while living in Stockholm back in 1962. Too F****n obvious then to end this version with "Ghosts", so instead a version of the beautiful "Angels" is included to finish off this Ayler tribute.”


And here’s something I found myself. A band called

Don Ayler’s Psychosis

And here’s a picture of them - God that takes me back...


July 1 2009

More for the archives

Not much happening in the real world regarding Albert Ayler, so many thanks to Bill Schmidt who sent me some articles from the May 1967 issue of Coda. These include: Albert Ayler on record: Free Spiritual Music - Part 1 by Stu Broomer (can’t say I agree with his assessment of the Ayler/Cherry Quartet), The New Music Scene by Elisabeth van der Mei (a collection of concert reviews including Albert Ayler at the Village Theatre in February 1967), and a review of an Ayler concert in Cleveland by Jon Goldman. And more from Pierre Crépon for the Archives - two articles from early issues of The Wire: The Truth Is Marching In, an appreciation of Ayler by Bill Smith coupled with some less than complimentary reviews of posthumous Ayler releases by Brian Case from March 1983, which sparked a response from Mike Hames the following year which included Mary Maria’s account of the events leading up to Ayler’s death, and a re-appraisal of Ayler’s later recordings.


Two good ears and time on your hands...

I turned this down since I don’t have either, but I thought I’d mention it here. Pierre Crépon has a tape of a Sunny Murray interview, which was released on cassette as Interview with Sunny Murray - Birth of a Movement: The Avant Garde Movement in Jazz on Jazz Chronicles JC 49. However Pierre says the sound quality is ‘really awful’ and he’s looking for someone to attempt a transcription of the tape. If anyone would like to have a go, then let me know.


And talking of interviews

I came across this on the Internet Archive site:

Ode to Gravity: Shandar Records (May 23, 1973)

“As of May 1973 when this program was recorded, Shandar Records of Paris had produced a series of 14 impressive record albums by avant-garde composers and performers including Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Karlheinz Stockhausen, La Monte Young, Pandit Pran Nath, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Sunny Murray, and Sun Ra. The owner of the company, Chantal d'Arcy talks in Paris with Philip Freriks, a reporter for VPRO/Amsterdam about the record company and her views on new music. Charles Amirkhanian also presents selections from Shandar Records, including a complete performance of “Four Organs” by Steve Reich.”


August 1 2009

Whatever happened to Joel Freedman?

I got an email earlier this month from the guy who runs the Jessamine Vine blog saying that George Stell had been in touch and was trying make contact with Joel Freedman, had I any idea where he was?

To jog memories, George Stell plays trombone on one track on the Greenwich Village sessions, Joel Freedman plays cello on several. The track on which they both appear, 'Universal Thoughts', did not see the light of day until the release of Live In Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings, conferring a slight aura of mystery on Stell - the phantom trombonist.

George Stell, in fact, according to the latest posting on Jessamine Vine, 'Science, jazz, and the "unknown" trombone player', (which features an interview with Mr. Stell and a photo) played several times with the Ayler brothers.

So, what of Joel Freedman? I had no idea where he was but, not wishing to admit my ignorance, I took a quick google and turned up this. It does seem that Freedman was the third Ayler string player (along with Henry Grimes and Bill Folwell) who headed out to Hollywood. Checking his entry on imdb, he seems to have specialised in documentary films - mostly with environmental themes - but he was also an executive producer on Natalie Wood's final film, Brainstorm.


News of the site

I’ve changed the Music page and added a new section to the site entitled, Albert Ayler and the Inconsistency of Tune Titles. This was all due to receiving a wonderfully detailed breakdown of the themes Ayler uses in the Live at Slug’s Saloon recordings from Sean Wilkie. In June I placed a similar article by Dikko Faust about the 1966 European Tour recordings on the (sorely underused) Appreciations of Ayler page, but it does seem that this kind of in-depth musical analysis of Ayler’s recordings deserves a separate section. I’d like to thank Dikko and Sean for doing this - it’s something which, with my total lack of musical knowledge, my rubbish equipment and my one (gradually failing- ear), I could never attempt. Sean’s piece can be accessed directly from the link below:

Albert Ayler / Slugs’ Saloon by Sean Wilkie

Dikko Faust also sent me his transcription of ‘Truth Is Marching In’ which is listed on the Sheet Music page or can be accessed from the link below:

Truth Is Marching In


Any ideas?

I came across the photo below while doing a google images search (I also found a photo of Karole Armitage performing her ballet, The Elizabethan Phrasing of the Late Albert Ayler) and it’s niggling at me. The photo is credited to Leni Sinclair and is described as “Albert Ayler Quartet: Village Theatre, Michigan, 1965”. According to the ‘Sightings’ section of the Holy Ghost book (which is the most comprehensive listing of Ayler concerts we have) there are no Michigan gigs listed (although he did play there in his days with Little Walter), so perhaps that can be ignored. Looking at the other photos on the site it corresponds to a Raymond Ross photo which appeared (without details) in the article by Han Schulte, ‘De Schreeuw van Albert Ayler’, in the Dutch magazine Jazz Nu, in November 1980. In the Ross photo the bassist is obscured and I always assumed it was Bill Folwell - obviously not. Now I’m thinking that the bassist is Lewis Worrell, the drummer, Ronald Shannon Jackson and the photo was taken at the Village Theatre, New York (possibly on August 26th 1966 at “The Avant-Garde: a Perspective in Revolution” concert). Can anyone confirm this?


The Raymond Ross photo.

And finally ...

I was in two minds whether to mention this since it is of a purely personal nature, but in the end I decided his contribution to this site should be marked in some way. Back in the days when I was using some free webspace from Supanet for this site I ran into problems with all the traffic engendered by the release of the Holy Ghost box set. While I dithered around hoping it would sort itself out, one of my closest friends, Grainger Reece, stepped in and purchased the ayler.org name and for the next few years shared the costs of the site with me. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but since we were both members of the feckless underclass, it was. Grainger died on Sunday, 26th July, after suffering a heart attack. He was 48 years old and it was quite sudden and unexpected. I shall miss him.


September 1 2009


Rashied Ali (1/7/33 - 12/8/09)

Although I always associate Rashied Ali more with the later work of John Coltrane, there are two connections with Albert Ayler. The Holy Ghost box contains their only known recording together, with Burton Greene at Slugs' from February, 1966. Steve Tintweiss, the bassist on that session, writes:

“The track on the box set with Rashied was the final tune from Slug’s Saloon in 1966, where Albert Ayler and myself, sat in with Burton Greene’s quartet of Frank Smith, Henry Grimes, and Rashied Ali. The excerpt of that free-form jam was captured on a Tandberg reel-to-reel. Though I broke the G-string on Henry’s instrument the bass is nearly inaudible. The wild battle of the tenors with no pre-set structure resulted in a super high energy exchange between Ayler, and his tenor saxophone disciple, the abstract painter and writer Frank Smith. Pharoah Sanders had his horn out and approached the bandstand; Leon Thomas can be heard free yodeling from the audience.

I’ll miss Rashied Ali. He was a pure musical soul with his own sound. There have been many obituaries, including the largest mainstream newspapers. Readers and listeners can access much of the printed articles, as well as links to Youtube videos and audio recordings from Rashied's official website at http://www.rashiedali.org.

There will be a Memorial Service for Rashied Ali on Saturday, September 5th at 11 AM at the Riverside Church in New York City. Those who are able to attend at this historical church in the Upper West Side of Manhattan are welcome.”

Pierre Crépon also sent me a link to Rashied Ali's final interview. And I was pleased to see The Guardian gave him a three-quarter page obituary, which is also available online.

The other Ayler connection is, of course, the Ayler tribute CD from 1996, ‘Bells’ (Knitting Factory 190) by Prima Materia.


And talking of Bells

ESP have just reissued a new limited edition of Bells,on 180 gram transparent vinyl with screenprinted Bells logo on the blank side.” Their site also has pictures of the various versions of Bells issued over the years - it goes without saying that I bought the boring, yellow vinyl, no logo one.


October 1 2009

Robert Levin, Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler

There’s a fascinating extract from Robert Levin’s forthcoming book, Going Outside: A Memoir of Free Jazz & the ‘60s, currently online. Its main subject is Cecil Taylor, but there’s a section about Albert Ayler sitting in with the group at the Take 3 in the winter of 1963.

I have to thank both Eleanor Brietel of the Drill Press and Kees Hazevoet for letting me know about this.


Ayler and Ali

Kees also pointed out. relating to last month’s news of the passing of Rashied Ali, that I was mistaken in only citing two connections between the drummer and Albert Ayler. Referring me to the Holy Ghost book, there were, at least, four more occasions when the two played together:
A 1965 gig at a venue on Eighth Street, New York, with Charles Tyler and Henry Grimes and/or Lewis Worrell.
The February, 1966, ‘Titans of the Tenor’ concert at Lincoln Center.
Ayler also sat in with the Coltrane group at the Village Vanguard in May, 1966.
And in September 1967, the Ayler band with Rashied Ali on drums (Don on trumpet, Call Cobbs on piano and Bill Davis on bass) played several gigs in Canada and upstate New York.


Village Theatre Review

And when there’s no news I always seem to turn to The Jessamine Vine. As a follow-up to the George Stell piece, there’s a review from The Village Voice of the 1967 Village Theatre concert which featured trombonist Stell. I have a review from Down Beat of the same concert in the archives in case you want to compare.


November 1 2009


Sirone (28/9/40 - 21/10/09)

The bassist, Sirone (Norris Jones) passed away in Berlin last Wednesday. Not a regular Ayler sideman, of course, he was perhaps best known for his work with the Revolutionary Ensemble. However, he does appear with Ayler on one recording, as part of the Pharoah Sanders group at the Renaissance Ballroom in New York on 21st January 1968, available on disc 6 in the Holy Ghost box. There’s a tribute from Lars Gotrich repeated on various sites.


Henry Grimes Back in the UK

The Profound Sound Trio (Paul Dunmall, Henry Grimes and Andrew Cyrille) are touring Britain in November appearing at the following venues:

Friday, 20 November, 8 pm: Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast.
Sunday, 22 November, 8.30 pm. Seven Artspace, Leeds.
Monday, 23 November, 8,30 pm. The Vortex, London.
Tuesday, 24 November, 8 pm. Band on the Wall, Manchester.
Thursday, 25 November, 8 pm. Gateshead Old Town Hall, Gateshead.
Friday, 27 November, 8 pm. Derby Theatre Studio, Derby.
Saturday, 28 November 11am.(Workshop) Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham.
Saturday, 28 November 8pm. CBSO Centre, Birmingham.


Dikko Faust

And regular message board contributor, trombonist Dikko Faust, is performing with Maynard and the Musties at the Lakeside Lounge, 162 Avenue B, New York, on Wednesday November 4th (“930ish. No cover (as usual) just a photobooth, great jukebox and omar the fortune-teller”).


And finally...

I found this on youtube - don’t get your hopes up, it’s not lost footage of Albert, but I thought it was nice.


December 1 2009

Well, thank God for Sean Wilkie, that’s all I can say. Yet another month of Ayler newslessness and I’ve been too busy (burying a garage roof in my back garden if you must know) to do any work on the site myself, so, I say again, thank God for Sean Wilkie, who, following on from his detailed breakdown of Live at SlugsSaloon has now provided a similar breakdown of the Cleveland La Cave sessions in the Holy Ghost box. As I think I said before, this is something my ear is not equipped to do, so if it wasn’t for Sean (not forgetting Dikko Faust) this kind of in-depth study of the music of Albert Ayler would not be available. I was going to say these articles will prove invaluable to students of the music, but I watched University Challenge last night where photos of John Coltrane and Charles Mingus went unrecognised by one team, although they did get Nat King Cole and Miles Davis (after the other team had incorrectly buzzed in with Louis Armstrong) - I would sigh and say what is the world coming to, although I suspect it was ever thus. Anyway, for the breakdown of the La Cave sessions, click the link below.

Albert Ayler / La Cave, Cleveland, 16 & 17 April, 1966 by Sean Wilkie

And here’s a picture of La Cave:


And since we’re on the subject of photos and what turns up when you put ‘Albert Ayler’ into Google Images, I came across a couple of David Redfern colour pictures of Albert, which I have a feeling might be from the infamous L.S.E. concert. They’re available at Getty Images and I know you don’t mess with them or else you have policemen standing on your doorstep beating you with truncheons and asking what you’ve been burying in your back garden, so you’ll just have to click the link. The other was on the BBC site, so I guess it’s ok to show that, especially since they wiped the tape (some things you just don’t forgive).


It’s coming up to two years since I first came across that notice on the My Name Is Albert Ayler website saying “It’ll soon be possible to preorder the DVD on the website. More news on this shortly.” Either there’s a problem or “soon” and “shortly” mean something else in Sweden. It’s also nearly as long since I found a listing for Albert Ayler - Berlin and Stockholm 1966 (Hatology 617) and there’s no sign of that either. But in the Christmas spirit, and until I run out of space on the site, here’s the session from Copenhagen from the same tour.

Tivoli Koncertsal, Copenhagen, Denmark, November 11th, 1966
Donald Ayler (t), Albert Ayler (ts), Michel Sampson (vln), Bill Folwell (b), Beaver Harris (d)

Introduction (1:05)
Truth Is Marching In (9:47)
Holy Ghost/unknown title/Light In Darkness (9:06)
Our Prayer (3:59)
Unknown Title (incomplete) (3:43)

(So, the garage roof is leaking and we decide to get a new one made of tin and the builder warns me he can’t take the old one away and I (fully conversant with the ways of the open range) say no problem I’ll take it up the tip. So I smash up half of it and load it in the car and go to the tip and, as you have to do these days, I ask the tip man where I should put it and he says not here. “It’s not asbestos,” I say. “I know,” tipman says, “but it looks like asbestos.” “But it isn’t,” I rejoinder. “But it looks like it. You’ll have to ring the Council.” Which I do and the councilman says they will pick up 10 items for £15. Which would be fine if the garage roof was still in its original 6 sheet state, but pressed cement (not asbestos) is brittle stuff and it’s in several hundred pieces by now and I don’t want them standing there with a calculator counting shards, so I explain the problem and the councilman says he’ll get somebody to give me a ring. Which he does and the wastemanagementman rings and I explain the problem and he says he’ll have to call round and see it. Which he does, and he says, “We can’t take that.” “It’s not asbestos,” I explain. “But it looks like asbestos,” he says. “But it isn’t.” “I know, but it looks like it.” “So what can I do?” “You can contact this private firm which deals with asbestos....” “It’s not asbestos.” “....to take it away but it’s very expensive. Or you can have it tested yourself, but again that’s expensive. Or you can go down to the main depot and they’ll give you two bags and if you leave it a few days and go back they may give you another two.” Which sounds like I’m going to have to hone my thespian skills, plus I reckon I’m going to need at least 20 bags. So, in desperation I say, “Can I just bury it in my garden.” “Yes,” says wastemanagementman, “you can do what you like in your back garden.”  Which, in this day and age when if you walk down the street smoking a pipe you feel like you’re in the final scene of the remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers surrounded by Donald Sutherlands, is a pleasant surprise. So that’s what I did. And when I’m dead and gone and the new owner of the house decides to do something fancy with the back garden that he’s seen on telly, he’s going to find two dead cats, a dead hamster and a garage roof, which looks like asbestos, but isn’t. That’s his problem. Merry Christmas.)


December 7 2009



Well, I might have known. I thought I’d finished with the site for 2009 when I received an email from Jazz Promo Services with the news that the Antoine Prum documentary about Sunny Murray, Sunny’s Time Now, will be released this month on DVD.


Apart from the obvious interest to Ayler fans of the film itself, the second disc also includes a 37 minute interview with the late Daniel Caux, the man behind the Nuits de la Fondation Maeght. At the moment the DVD hasn’t reached the regular stores, but it can be ordered direct from Paul Thiltges Distributions.
Click here for a big picture with full details of the double DVD.



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