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My Name Is Albert Ayler


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     Europe 1966
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     La Cave






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Record Reviews 7:


record reviews

The New Wave In Jazz

La Saga Héroïque d’Albert Ayler

Reevaluations--The Impulse Years

The Saxophone


The New Wave In Jazz


Down Beat (27 January, 1966) - USA


Jazz Monthly (April, 1966) - UK


John Coltrane (ten); McCoy Tyner (p); Jimmy Garrison (bs); Elvin Jones (d)
                   “Village Gate”, New York City—March 28, 1965
Nature boy
Donald Ayler (tpt); Albert Ayler (ten); Joel Freedman (’cello); Lewis Worrell (bs); James “Sonny” Murray (d)
                   same date
Holy ghost
Grachan Moncur III (tbn); Bobby Hutcherson (vib); Cecil McBee (bs); Bill Harris (d)
                   same date
Blue free
Ashley Fennell (tpt); Virgil Jones (tbn); Marion Brown (alt); Archie Shepp (ten); Fred Pirtle (bar); Reggie Johnson (bs); Roger Blank (d)
                   same date
Charles Tolliver (tpt); James Spaulding (alt); Bobby Hutcherson (vib); Cecil McBee (bs); Billy Higgins (d)
                   same date
Brilliant corners
                   HMV CLP1932 (32/-)

     Sound but unremarkable, Nature boy falls into the pattern of recent Coltrane performances, showing once again his formidable rhythmic ease, highly evocative tone, and limited melodic invention. Holy ghost offers a grotesque surface intensity and some challenging percussion work by Murray; along with frantic ensemble passages thickened out by Freedman’s ’cello, the chief impression one takes away is of an almost total lack of melodic resourcefulness. Both horns mix screeching runs with shrill, jabbing single notes at the top of the range without bothering substantially to vary the content of their phrases. This drawback is the more apparent in that there is no regular ground beat and only a perfunctory formal structure. In comparison, Blue free is a far more traditional piece, being similar to the performances included in Moncur’s first Blue Note LP, Evolution. Whereas the trombonist begins well only to run out of inspiration in the later stages of his solo, Hutcherson turns in a delicately introspective solo that grows logically from start to finish. Perhaps the outstanding feature of this track is the entertaining interplay between vibraharp, bass and drums. Bill Harris evinces a combination of verve and self-discipline rare in a newcomer. Could this perhaps be a pseudonym?
     After this brief respite from the harrowing world of the ‘new black music’, as the unpleasant sleeve-note describes it, we are brought back to harsh normality by Archie Shepp’s Hambone. His jagged, coarse-toned tenor invests this track with something approaching the intensity Ayler’s band achieves, with the welcome distinction that there is far more melodic interest in both theme and improvisation. Shepp’s aggressive style figures as an extension of the approach favoured by Rollins on his Our man in jazz album. The group is used sparingly but effectively, the general climate of feeling being reminiscent of such 1951 Mulligan sides as Funhouse or Mullenium. The Tolliver group’s rendition of Brilliant corners relates more closely than any other selection here to the post-bop medium, though all the men featured take liberties with Monk’s sequence. Displaying his customary verve, Spaulding is agreeably thoughtful into the bargain and Tolliver indicates he has the musical potential to build on the basis he appears largely to have acquired from Freddie Hubbard. As in Blue free, Hutcherson steals the honours with a lithe, dancing solo over the bass and drum patterns. Higgins, incidentally, plays very well here and seems now to be quite at home in the newer rhythmic/percussive context.
     The general artistic level of this release, though more than creditable, not surprisingly falls short of the excellence of Ornette Coleman’s new Blue Note release. A whole phalanx of players is now fanning out behind the innovators, working to establish their own identities much as Dexter Gordon, say, or Stan Getz did in the ‘forties. One hopes that the young men involved will outgrow the deplorable fascist views certain have expressed in print, for it is unthinkable that any worthwhile art can flourish in an atmosphere of racial hatred. In the long run such dogmatism could be more harmful to the idiom than all the initial hostility with which it inevitably has to contend. So far as this latter obstacle is concerned, at least these 44 minutes, encompassing as they do selections by different groups with clearly differing aims, will show that, whether adverse or favourable, sweeping generalisations about the new idiom are worse than useless.

                                                                                                                                                           MICHAEL JAMES



Tribune de Lausanne (17 April, 1966, p. 12) - Switzerland


Negro Digest (September, 1966) - USA

     In a very real sense, The New Wave in Jazz (Impulse) is a microcosm of jazz history, simultaneously recalling the idiom’s turbulent past and opening doors to what may be the dominant theme in jazz’s future for the next several decades. Many followers will easily recall the transition period of the Forties when a group of young experimenters named John Birks (Dizzy) Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Charles (Yardbird) Parker, Max Roach and Charles Mingus (and maybe a few others) were toying with a brand new kind of jazz improvisation they called “bop.” After a period of heated controversy about the merits of the new music, bop (and the other forms it influenced) became a respectable and accepted school of learning for jazzmen.
     Now comes a set of latter-day experimenters—tenor men John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, altoists Marion Brown, James Spaulding, trumpeters Ashley Fennell, Donald Ayler and Charles Tolliver, drummers Billy Higgins, Bill Harris and Roger Blank and others—who are introducing another radical step in jazz improvisation.
     The album contains five numbers recorded at the Village in new York City for the benefit of the Black Arts Repertory Theatre in Harlem, at that time headed by LeRoi Jones. “This new black music,” as Jones calls it, is completely free of any distinguishable (at least, to the layman listener) melody and almost totally departs from all previous musical forms. It combines a strange (maybe exotic, many times exasperating) set of whaling, squeaky, droning and pounding sounds which leave most of us confused, groping for something identifiable according to what we have been taught as Western music.
     Therein lies our error! This is not Western music! This is Black music! All of these musicians would probably welcome the label black nationalist, not because each of them is ready to take to the streets and put the torch to all of Western civilization, but because they are swept up in the current racial upheaval that finds the black man searching for an identity that is not Western, but African. Jones explains, “You hear on this record poets of The Black Nation.” Albert Ayler, in his liner notes, tells us, “The creators of the New Music have reached deep into their psyches, deep into their cultural origins to find a language of sound that conveys this sense of the world as feeling, as knowledge found through the logic of the emotions.”
     And truly, it’s the emotions, and not the logic of sound that is at work here. Coltrane, together with drummer Elvin Jones, bassist Jimmy Garrison and pianist McCoy Tyner, will thrill and mystify you on “Nature Boy.” The Ayler brothers on “Holy Ghost,” trombonist Grachan Moncur on “Blue Free,” Shepp & Co. on “Hambone,” and Tolliver and Spaulding on “Brilliant Corners” will leave you with either a sense of bewilderment as to what they are trying to say, or with an esthetic attachment that has deep roots in the black man’s determined drive to shed every vestige of the white man’s cultural influence.—FRANCIS WARD


Record Reviews

Discography: In Greenwich Village

Discography: Compilations



La Saga Héroïque d’Albert Ayler


Jazz Magazine (No. 192, September 1971, pp. 40-41) - France

La Saga Héroïque d’Albert Ayler: Message From Albert / Free at Last / New Generation (1) / Zion Hill / Love Cry / Universal Indians / Ghosts / Omega / Bells (2) / Holy Ghost (3) / For John Coltrane (4) / Our Prayer (5) / Drudgery / Island Harvest (6).
1 Ayler (ts, voc), Call Cobbs (p, clavecin, org), Bill Folwell (b), Bernard Pretty Purdie (dm), Burt Collins, Joe Newman (tp), Seldon Powell (ts, fl), Buddy Lucas (bs), Garnett Brown (tb), The Soul Singers (voc). New York, 1969. 2 Ayler (ts), Don Ayler (tp), Call Cobbs (clavecin), Alan Silva (b), Milford Graves (dm). 1968. 3 Ayler (ts), Don Ayler (tp), Joel Freedman (cello), Lewis Worrell (b), Sunny Murray (dm). Village Gate, 28-3-65. 4 Ayler (as), J. Freedman (cello), A. Silva, B. Folwell (b), Beaver Harris (dm). Village Theatre, 26-2-67. 5 Ayler (ts), D. Ayler (tp), Michael Sampson (vln), B. Folwell, Henry Grimes (b), B. Harris (dm). Village Vanguard, 18-12-66. 6 Ayler (ts), Mary Maria (voc), Henry Vestine (g), Bill Folwell, Stafford Jones (b), Muhammad Ali (dm). Plaza Sound Studio, 26/29-8-69. Abc As-1024 (album de deux disques) / 33 t / 3O cm.

«Saga Héroïque». Pourquoi pas? «La courte histoire du moi transcendant ». Comme certains rencontrent Dieu le samedi soir au quartier latin, d’autres, ceux qui vous parlent dans ce journal, croisent des titres bien curieux. Il faut soit une perversion de l’esprit hors pair, soit un sens de la publicité appris dans les couloirs de la Défense pour entendre cette musique comme un récit mythique cultivant le genre héroïque. Mis à part les mélodies joyeuses d’Armstrong (celui qui portait des petites socquettes blanches) et 1es flonflons enveloppants d’Ellington cuvée «Cotton Club» (celui qui porta encore des grandes chaussettes blanches), je ne connais guère d’exemple de musique plus directe et communicative que celle d’Albert Ayler. «Et tout pour la tripe», comme disait Rabelais. Pour ceux qui ne posséderaient pas les disques dont ce double album est extrait, l’achat est à conseiller sans restriction car, à l’exception des enregistrements publiés par E.s.p., le choix opéré recouvre les expressions multiples d’un art de dire/vivre peu courant sous nos cieux jazzistiques. De plus, on se familiarisera au passage avec les compagnons de route d’A. A., les Cobbs, Graves, Murray, Grimes, Silva, eux-mêmes authentiques créateurs. Plutôt que d’analyser les thèmes du présent album, ce qui a été fait auparavant dans ces colonnes, laissons la parole aux commentaires dissonnants quoique complémentaires imprimés au dos de la pochette...

Constantin: «La mort d’A. A. est exemplaire à plus d’un titre... C’est pour cela que la question de savoir qui a tué A. A. est finalement assez subversive et pose le problème de fond d’America the beautiful... La musique d’A. A. est une musique de revanche. Et lorsque cette heure aura sonné, la musique d’A. A. l’Admirable sera étrangement, comme on dit, au goût du jour.»

On a ici l’image d’un A. A. «héros de la révolution en marche», ce qui fait marrer lorsque l’on se reporte aux interviews données par A. A., en particulier la conversation entre A. A. et Jacqueline et Daniel Caux. (A propos de Spiritual Unity : «En Amérique ils ont essayé de dire que c’était très politique et que ce serait la cause des émeutes. C’était le moment où j’étais avec LeRoi Jones. Mais ce n’était pas vrai et la musique était très belle.» Art vivant no. 17, février 71. Revue de Mister Maeght, homme bien sous tous rapports.) Ajoutons quand même que, sans vouloir faire d’Albert un Trotsky noir à barbiche, les lunettes et le piolet en moins, on ne peut sans mauvaise foi isoler la naissance et les prolongements d’une telle musique des révoltes individuelles des ghettos et des mouvements noirs de contestation structurés ou non.

LeRoi Jones: «A. A. pense que tout est tout. Toute la paix. Tout le mouvement. Qu’il est un réceptacle divin (vessel?) d’où jaillirait l’énergie, point d’émergences. Il pense (ou peut-être ne le pense-t-il pas) qu’il n’est même pas ici... A. A. c’est l’âge atomique.» Honnête vis-à-vis de la philosophie d’A. A., LeRoi Jones, tout au moins dans ce court extrait de ses notes sur A. A., gomme quelque peu la dimension extra-musicale d’Ayler. Ce serait en quelque sorte le contre-pied de Constantin. Sans métaphysique ni politisation pédante, Delfeil de Ton exprime, à mon sens avec plus de bonheur, le poids d’existence d’une telle musique et l’état de joie extrême qu’on a pu éprouver à l’écoute en direct d’A. A. lors de ses deux passages en France. D.d.t.: « A. A. de mes amours, c’est toi que j’aimerai toujours. T’étais le plus beau, c’était toi qui swinguais le plus fort et c’est toi qui les faisais le plus suer... On se tenait par la main Marinella et moi et on était heureux... Que tu sois tombé dans la rivière, on est bien obligé de s’en consoler, mais si ç’avait été de nous, il y en a bien d’autres que l’on aurait poussés à ta place... La terre est encore plus triste depuis que tu n’es plus là... Ils te font des disques In Memoriam. Te voilà embaumé dans le latin. Mon pauvre Albert. Si c’est pas une pitié. »

Enfin il nous reste des disques. Ce double album. C’est un peu la fête sous cellophane, mais à l’heure où l’on meurt un peu plus avec l’assassinat des Halles Baltard, Albert même eurubanné c’est toujours une consolation.

                                                                                                                                                                   P. G.-C.


Record Reviews

Discography: Compilations



Reevaluations--The Impulse Years


Ann Arbor Sun (8 February, 1974) - USA

Albert Ayler

Albert Ayler: Reevaluations--The Impulse Years. Impulse 9267-2.

     Archie Shepp tells the story about having finished a set one night and going offstage –– “I remember hearing this huge noise in the room that turned everybody in the room around. It was Albert.” Over three years after his mysterious death in 1970 and close to ten years since he recorded his most influential work, the music of Albert Ayler still turns around the fortunate few who somehow wander within hearing distance. Impulse Records has conceivably made it less random an event that the open-earred human will indeed be within hearing distance sometime with the release of “Albert Ayler, Reevaluations--The Impulse Years.”
     Ayler burst on the scene after the Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane units, in particular, had already considerably freed jazz music harmonically and rhythmically. He “simplified” the music, structurally, still more creating pretty, whistlable, folk melodies from which he launched the most outraged and humorous improvisations ever heard on the planet, while exploring and expanding the kaleidophonic range of the tenor saxophone’s textural and timbral possibilities.
     This anthology showcases some of his most revolutionary and representative work--“Holy Ghost,” “For John Coltrane,” and “Love Cry,” for example, recorded with superlatively empathetic groups featuring stars the stature of Sunny Murray, Milford Graves, Alan Silva, and Bobby Few. Also on this album are examples of some of Ayler’s more debatably successful later efforts when Albert created compositions that were simply and surprisingly rhythm and blues based, for example, “Drudgery,” featuring Canned Heat guitarist Henry Vestine. Indeed, with the release of “New Grass,” Ayler came under attack from fellow musicians for having “sold out.” However, it is to this work that most people unfamiliar with Albert’s music in particular and “The New Thing” in general should be first directed. The astounding truth is if you dig Howlin’ Wolf you can get to Albert Ayler. Here’s spiritual energy enough and more than enough to “turn you around” and face you in the direction of a giant who John Coltrane decided was taking “music to an even higher level.”

                                                                                                                                                                       --Bill Adler.


Record Reviews

Discography: Compilations



The Saxophone


Ann Arbor Sun (No. 57, 30 November / 14 December, 1973 - p.16) - USA


Record Reviews

Discography: Compilations


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