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Albert Ayler

One of the giants of free jazz, Albert Ayler was also one of the most controversial. His huge tone and wide vibrato were difficult to ignore, and his 1966 group sounded like a runaway New Orleans brass band from 1910.

Unlike John Coltrane or Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler was not a virtuoso who had come up through the bebop ranks. His first musical jobs were in R&B bands, including one led by Little Walter, although oddly enough he was nicknamed "Little Bird" in his early days because of a similarity in sound on alto to Charlie Parker. During his period in the army (1958-1961), he played in a service band and switched to tenor. Unable to find work in the U.S. after his discharge due to his uncompromising style, Ayler spent time in Sweden and Denmark during 1962-1963, making his first recordings (which reveal a tone with roots in Sonny Rollins) and working a bit with Cecil Taylor. Ayler's prime period was during 1964-1967. In 1964, he toured Europe with a quartet that included Don Cherry and was generally quite free and emotional. The following year he had a new band with his brother Donald Ayler on trumpet and Charles Tyler on baritone, and the emphasis in his music began to change. Folk melodies (which had been utilized a bit with Cherry) had a more dominant role, as did collective improvisation, and yet, despite the use of spaced-out marches, Irish jigs, and brass band fanfares, tonally Ayler remained quite free. His ESP recordings from this era and his first couple of Impulse records find Ayler at his peak and were influential; John Coltrane's post-1964 playing was definitely affected by Ayler's innovations.

However, during his last couple of years, Albert Ayler's career seemed to become a bit aimless and his final Impulse sessions, although experimental (with the use of vocals, rock guitar, and R&B-ish tunes), were at best mixed successes. A 1970 live concert that was documented features him back in top form, but in November 1970, Ayler was found drowned in New York's East River under mysterious circumstances. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Love Cry & The Last Album

1. Love Cry

2. Ghosts

3. Omega

4. Dancing Flowers

5. Bells

6. Love Flowers

7. Zion Hill

8. Universal Indians

9. Untitled Duet

10. Again Comes The Rising Of The Sun

11. All Love

12. Toiling

13. Desert Blood

14. Birth Of Mirth

15. Water Music

x

Track List: The Impulse Story

1. Holy Ghost

2. Truth Is Marching In

3. Angels

4. Love Cry

5. Bells

6. New Grass / Message From Albert

7. Free At Last!

8. Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe

9. Water Music

10. Untitled Duet

x

Track List: Live On The Riviera

1. Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe (Live)

2. Birth Of Mirth (Live)

3. Masonic Inborn (Live)

4. Oh! Love Of Life (Live)

5. Island Harvest (Live)

6. Heart Love (Live)

7. Ghosts (Live)

x

Track List: Live In Greenwich Village

Disc 1

1. Holy Ghost

2. Truth Is Marching In (live)

3. Our Prayer (live)

4. Spirits Rejoice (Live)

5. Divine Peacemaker (live)

6. Angels

Disc 2

3. Light In Darkness

7. Omega Is The Alpha (live)

8. Universal Thoughts (live)

x

Track List: Nuits De La Fondation Maeght

1. In Heart Only (live)

2. Spirits

3. Holy Family

4. Spirits Rejoice

5. Truth Is Marching In

6. Universal Message

7. Spiritual Reunion (live)

8. Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe

x

Track List: New Grass

1. New Grass / Message From Albert

2. New Generation

3. Sun Watcher

4. New Ghosts

5. Heart Love

6. Everybody's Movin'

7. Free At Last

x

Track List: Love Cry

1. Love Cry

2. Ghosts

3. Omega

4. Dancing Flowers

5. Bells

6. Love Flower

7. Love Cry II

8. Zion Hill (Alternate Take)

9. Universal Indians (Alternate Take)

10. Zion Hill

11. Universal Indians

x

Track List: Spirits Rejoice

1. Spirits Rejoice

2. Holy Family

3. D.C.

4. Angels

5. Prophet

x

Track List: Spirits

1. Spirits

2. Witches And Devils

3. Holy, Holy

4. Saints

Comments

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proably my favorite musician-oth e r faves-kenny dorham,trane - o f course,sam rivers,latee f , p a r k e r Donald byrd,bobbie Humphreys,sa r a h Vaughan,dina h Washington,s u n ra Derek bailey,john Zorn,peter brotzman,mon k --so many........ . . . . . . . . . .
Report as inappropriate
well-I'm jealous that you saw him live.i was living in ny when they found his body in the east river.seen roland kirk,sun ra,tommy Flanagan,cec i l taylor-all in the early seventies.
Report as inappropriate
I heard him twice in person; sounds I will never forget.
Report as inappropriate
stadamnon2
Albert Ayler opened up a new universe of sound and texture.
Report as inappropriate
Albert Ayler's richly layered textures have always resonated with me on a soulful level communicatin g that he had spirit connection and so much to say. His untimely death was a seeming loss to the universe or perhaps he had given us what he came here to give. Either way we are fortunate that he shared his expression with us. For this I am grateful.
Report as inappropriate
I'm interested in what you're saying about spiritual expression in Ayler, Paul. Have you ever seen any literature that supports this sort of idea?
Report as inappropriate
i like brotzmann but he is not the caliber of ayler, and i agree he is much more interesting than trane. he is the greatest. for ayler i think it is less about creating high art and more about spiritual expression. following the sound.
Report as inappropriate
andrew_titch e n a l
him and brotzmann = geniuses of high art.
Report as inappropriate
He's AWESOME 1st Time listening Its so offbeat and astounding I LOVE IT

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