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My Name Is Albert Ayler


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News from 2003

January 13 2003

First of all, apologies for the late update and Happy New Year!


Henry Grimes:

One of the most astonishing pieces of recent Ayler-related news is the discovery that Henry Grimes, who played bass on Witches and Devils, Goin’ Home, Spirits Rejoice and Live In Greenwich Village, is alive and well. The generally accepted story was that Henry Grimes had abandoned the music scene and wandered off to Hollywood to become an actor where he subsequently vanished. However, Marshall Marrotte managed to track him down in L.A. for his first interview in over 30 years. The interview appears in the current edition of the magazine, Signal To Noise.

The Wire also carries the interview in its current issue, along with Daniel Caux’s interview with Albert Ayler from 1970. Caux was involved with Ayler’s final concerts in France at the Fondation Maeght, he wrote the sleevenotes for the Shandar release of Les Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, and conducted the interview with Ayler which appears interspersed with concert footage in the Jean-Michel Meurice documentary film of the event. This is the first time the interview has appeared in English.

Ayler’s First Recording:

Jan Strom has sent me details of the actual ‘first recordings’ of Albert Ayler. A 20 minute tape of a concert in Helsinki from June 1962 of Ayler playing with the Herbert Katz Quintet. Full details on the Unreleased page.

The Copenhagen Tapes:

Since The Copenhagen Tapes appeared at the end of last year and that page has now gone into the archives, I just thought I should mention this new Ayler CD again. It is beginning to appear in some of the internet stores (HMV.com and Tower Records (UK) both list it) or you can buy it direct from Ayler Records in Sweden.


New Additions to the Site

Over the next few months I’ll be adding a few more features to the site. Several people have suggested some kind of photo gallery - the latest being Kees Hazevoet, who sent me the photo below of the Ayler band outside Slugs’ - so I’ll finally get round to that. Also, I’d always intended to have a section listing other versions of Ayler tunes and other pieces of music directly influenced by Ayler, but the thought of the work involved put me off. However, following a nudge from George Scala, I’ll be starting on that. Finally, I thought it might be useful to link some of the original reviews of Ayler’s records to the discography. So, if anybody out there has anything they feel might fit in somewhere - scans of photos, details of Ayler tribute bands, any old reviews or articles on Ayler from long-dead jazz magazines - please email me.

What’s Available page updated for January.

The 2002 What’s New page has been archived.

Ayler Slugs 196504


Brian Carpenter, Maarten Derksen, Kees Hazevoet, Vid Jeraj, Paul Jimenes, Richard Koloda, Francesco Martinelli, George Scala, Jan Strom and Remco Takken


January 16 2003

Just a quick discographical note:

Having just listened to The Copenhagen Tapes and checked it against Live in Europe 1964-66 I can now confirm that the November 5th. date given on the latter is wrong. The three tracks on Live in Europe from 1964 are in fact part of the September 3rd session released now in its entirety on The Copenhagen Tapes.


February 1 2003


Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe:

According to the Verve website Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe is scheduled for re-release on 11th March 2003.

Paul Haines:

Paul Haines, who wrote the words for the booklet which accompanied the first release of Spiritual Unity, has died. Richard Leigh kindly forwarded me the following message from Stu Broomer:

“It is with deep sadness that I inform you of the passing of Paul Haines, who died at home in Ennismore, Ontario on Tuesday, January 21. Whether as poet, music writer or filmmaker, Paul possessed the rarest quality - genuine originality. His vision, wit and expansive generosity will be missed by all who knew him and his work. A memorial celebration of Paul’s life is being planned to take place in Toronto.”

Henry Grimes:

In a follow-up to the story of Henry Grimes’ reappearance, I caught the following message from Margaret Davis on an avant-garde message board:

Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 23:52:51-0500
From: Margaret Davis
Subject: Henry Grimes & Olive Oil

Dear musicians / music lovers,

By now you may have heard the great news that master bassist Henry Grimes, missing from the music world ever since the late '6O's, had been found in good health, though pretty much destitute, living in a single-room occupancy hotel in South Central Los Angeles. He's been there for the last 2O years but had long ago sold his bass for survival needs and has since contented himself with writing poetry, trying a bit of acting, doing odd jobs, and surviving on Social Security. The person who found Henry Grimes, a wonderful young social worker and writer named Marshall Marrotte, has been serving selflessly as Henry's mentor and protector since then.

Henry Grimes told Marshall that he very much wished he had a bass so he could start playing again. Here we have a supreme master musician who went to Juilliard, who recorded and played brilliantly with musicians as diverse as Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Benny Goodman, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz, Steve Lacy, Charles Mingus (yes, Charles Mingus), Sunny Murray, Perry Robinson, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, Charles Tyler, McCoy Tyner, Rev. Frank Wright, and many more.

For me, a planet where the great Henry Grimes does not have a bass is not a place I want to be, and being unprepared for space travel at this time, I took it upon myself to begin a month-long nationwide search for a bass for Henry Grimes. I wrote to, called, or otherwise contacted about 5O musicians Henry played and recorded with, as well as many bassists who would know him as a music hero even if he was before their time. I put particular concentration on the West Coast because shipping a bass is a big expense in itself, and also I thought the Western music community would want the opportunity to gather around him. So with Marshall Marrotte's approval, I put the word out far and wide, and then we waited for a bass for Henry Grimes.

For quite a while, nobody moved.

Slowly a few people began to say they'd be willing to do something -- make a donation, hold or play in a benefit concert, contribute a bow -- kind, good offers, but not a bass for Henry Grimes to play. A couple of afflicted souls responded negatively, cynically or with hostility. Most just didn't answer at all.

Then, just when I was beginning to despair, to question my lifelong belief in the term "music community" as something more than a concept or an ideal, but as an actual living entity that embraces and sustains its own -- the great William Parker came home to New York City from another of his tours, got around to reading his Emails, and called me to say he would send a bass and a bow to Henry Grimes. First he wanted New York's great bass specialist David Gage to make a small repair, and then David's shop would build a shipping crate for the bass and arrange and pay for the shipping. One of David Gage's employees, a bassist called Sprocket, even put up $1OO to help with shipping costs, while Wendy Oxenhorn of New York's Jazz Foundation stood prepared to cover shipping if needed, and was happy to learn she could keep that money to help another musician in need.

Henry Grimes received the bass William Parker named Olive Oil (more, I think, due to the greenish tinge of her finish than for Popeye's girlfriend) on December 16th, 2OO2. We've been in touch with Henry, and he is ecstatic to have Olive Oil and has been practicing happily ever since. In fact, the building manager reports that nowadays when people knock on Henry's door, he's too immersed in practicing to reply!

This leads me back to those offers of donations and benefit concerts and such. For all wishing to help Henry Grimes on his road back into the music,here are some suggestions:

(1) Close friends, band mates, or family members of Henry Grimes, please contact me or Marshall Marrotte and we will give you Henry's address (subject to prior agreement from Henry). Henry has neither phone nor Email.

(2) We've started a fund at David Gage's shop so that Henry Grimes will be able to call and order anything he needs -- pickup, amp, new set of strings, a wheel, gig bag, some resin, etc. To contribute, please make a check to DAVID GAGE STRING INSTRUMENT REPAIR, mark somewhere on the check FOR ACCOUNT OF HENRY GRIMES, and mail to Marshall Marrotte, 4696 Tallassee Road, Athens, GA 3O6O7-2229, USA (Email kennedymarrotte@hotmail.com ) . Marshall will tabulate the contributions to the fund and then immediately send them on to David Gage.

(3) To send donations, letters, cards, or gifts to Henry Grimes directly rather than to the fund, mail them to Marshall Marrotte (as above), and Marshall will forward them to Henry Grimes. (If you're sending a donation via this route, please send a postal money order, NOT a personal check, because Henry Grimes does not have a bank account.) We want to avoid giving out his address just now because we don't want this shy, gentle, very sensitive person overwhelmed with strangers and fuss, so that he has time to work on playing at his own pace and can make his way back into the music when and as he wishes.

(4) If you want to hold or play in concerts honoring Henry Grimes, please do so! Some of us are planning such a concert here in New York, and I think it will be huge and very beautiful. Whether Henry Grimes will attend or participate will be entirely up to him. Meanwhile, funds raised can be handled the same ways as described above.

Thanks to all who care!

Margaret Davis
Editor & Publisher, "Art Attack!,"
the publication for & aboutliberation musicians in NYC (& beyond),
on the Web at


New Additions to the Site

What’s Available page updated for February.


Richard Leigh, Francesco Martinelli and Dan Willems.


March 1 2003


Albert et sa Fanfare Poliorcétique

Not really news, but this story of a French rock band taking their name from Albert Ayler is one that I’d never come across before. I’d like to thank Paul Jimenes, who first let me know about this, then followed up the story and received the following letter from Denis Benoliel of ‘Albert et sa Fanfare Poliorcétique’ concerning the band’s connection with Albert Ayler. Paul translated the letter and added a few explanatory notes in [ ].

     ‘ “Albert et sa Fanfare Poliorcétique”, our band that made shows in the streets and played theatrical rock was composed of former members of the Brass Band of the Beaux-Arts [the French National art school] and other people such as myself, and also students of the Fine Arts from Marseilles. There was a comic published in the newspaper “Actuel” that told the story of a brass band invading towns, written by my fellow-worker Jo, in 1969.
     One summer, during the holidays, there was a concert by Albert Ayler at the Fondation Maeght in St. Paul de Vence. He played free jazz with his band. We were told that the next day he would play in the V.V.F. [“a state-subsidized holiday village”. V.V.F. stands for “Village Vacances Famille”] where he and his band lived during their stay. So we went there and he made the audience dance with music such as “Petite Fleur”, the song by Sidney Bechet. He was really having a good time. Then, when they took a break, we had a chat with him, and when he knew we were a brass band, his face lit up and he told us it was one of his dreams, to play in public with a brass band.
     When we were seeking a name for our band, the radio was on, and we learnt of his tragic death in the Hudson. We immediately decided to call the band “Albert et sa fanfare...” [“Albert and his brass band...”] ... and what? We opened a dictionary, and by chance we arrived on the page where we found the word “poliorcétique”, which means “town invaders”. This was (as far as we were concerned), how we lived, because when we arrived in the middle of nowhere, the doors and the windows opened, and people smiled and quickly we were surrounded by a lot of people who invited us to have a drink in bistros or in their homes.’

                                                                                                                 Denis Benoliel - ‘Albert et sa Fanfare Poliorcétique’

‘Albert et sa Fanfare Poliorcétique’ released one LP in 1971 - La malédiction des rockers (Riviera 521194). The LP opens and closes with a brass band but the rest is fairly straight versions of old rock’n’roll songs. The only detectable musical influence of Ayler is a fairly manic saxophone on ‘Long Tall Sally’.


New Additions to the Site

Next month should see a reorganisation of the site with several new features.

What’s Available page updated for March.


Denis Benoliel, Filippo Borromeo, Maarten Derksen, Paul Jimenes, Joe Moudry, Chris Rich, Bill Schmidt and John Shelton.


April 1 2003


Richard Koloda has informed me of the death of Jimmy Landers at the age of 66. Landers, a blues guitarist from Cleveland had a hit in the 1970s with ‘I Apologize’ and is also mentioned in Valerie Wilmer's “As Serious As Your Life” as a one-time Cleveland bandmate of Albert Ayler's. The full obituary is available on the Cleveland Plain Dealer site.

New Additions to the Site

Finally, I’ve completed the site update which I began in January. The main changes and additions are as follows:

1. The Archives section. This includes a print archive (the original reviews of Ayler records and concerts as well as articles from jazz magazines around the world), a photo gallery, the Ayler Remembered page and the old What’s New pages. At the moment the photo gallery is looking a bit sparse and the print archive seems to favour the long defunct U.K. magazine, ‘Jazz Monthly’, but hopefully other people will now take the long trek up into the attic and dust off their copies of Down Beat etc. and send the old Ayler material on to me. It is the old stuff that I’m hoping to collect here rather than the newly published Ayler retrospectives which will still be in copyright. Of course the old stuff is also in copyright but apart from Val Wilmer (who’s made her position clear elsewhere) I’m hoping that no one else objects to 30 year old material being recycled here.

2. The Music section. At the suggestion of George Scala I’ve added a couple of pages listing other recordings of Ayler’s music, the versions, and those pieces dedicated to him, the tributes. Again, I’m expecting to be informed of all the ones I’ve missed.

While updating the site I realised how little webspace I’d got left. Two of the mp3s which have been on the site for a while have now been removed (‘Mothers’ and ‘In Heart Only’ - however, no great loss since both have now been reissued on CD). Thanks to Joe Moudry I now have a copy of some of Ayler’s unreleased material and I had intended to put some of this on the site, but there was no space, so instead I’ve created an overflow site at http://ayler0.tripod.com. This now contains three large mp3 files - Ayler’s performance at John Coltrane’s funeral, his final recording of ‘Ghosts’ from the first Fondation Maeght concert, and a fragment of his interview in France in 1970.

3. I decided to drop the What Was Available page, since I was never really sure what the point of it was. However I’ll continue to update the What’s Available page as usual.

And that’s about it apart from some general tidying up here and there.


Filippo Borromeo, Maarten Derksen, Kees Hazevoet, Vid Jeraj, Richard Koloda, Richard Leigh, Francesco Martinelli, Joe Moudry, George Scala, John Shelton, Dan Willems and Tim Witham.


May 1 2003


Following up on the Henry Grimes story, Brian Carpenter sent me the following:

“Henry Grimes will be performing in NYC at the Vision Festival on the last night, Monday May 26th with William Parker leading the Jeanne Lee Project with voices of Thomas Buckner, Ellen Christi, Jay Clayton, & Lisa Sokolov, & musicians Lewis Barnes, Rob Brown, Gerald Cleaver, Cooper~Moore, Joseph Daley, & William Parker playing balaphon, n'goni, & bass, + Henry Grimes, special guest, bass. This will be Grimes' first visit to NYC and performance with his peers in over thirty years. See www.visionfestival.org for more information.”

New Additions to the Site

I’m gradually adding new things to the Archive section as time permits. One major addition (thanks to Kees Hazevoet) is the National Observer article, ‘The Moody Men Who Play the New Music’ from 1965 which was included as an insert with the first release of Bells. I’d also like to thank Filippo Borromeo who’s sent me a load of articles and record reviews, as well as a scan of the cover of the Philology LP.

What’s Available page updated for May.


Filippo Borromeo, Brian Carpenter, Maarten Derksen, Kees Hazevoet, Paul Karting, Elaine Parker, Len Pogost and George Scala.


June 1 2003


I'm very grateful to Mr. Charles W. Taylor, who was stationed with Albert Ayler in the 76th Army Band in Orleans, France from 1959 to 1960.  Mr. Taylor has contributed his memories of Albert during this period to the Ayler Remembered page, and he also sent me these two terrific photos of Albert which can be seen below. The one with the two boys was taken on July 5th, 1959 in La Ferte Mace, France.

Ferte Mace02

Ted Joans:

Ted Joans, the poet who had strong connections with the jazz world and was a great fan of Albert Ayler, passed away on 25th April 2003. There’s an obituary on the Guardian’s site and there’s also a Ted Joans Tribute site.

Henry Grimes:

Michael Wolfson sent me this link to a New York Times article about the legendary bassist’s return to the music world.


Filippo Borromeo has informed me that the Emusic site has four Ayler albums on offer, Spiritual Unity, Bells/Prophecy, New York Eye And Ear Control and Spirits Rejoice. There is a 14 day free trial period before the monthly fee kicks in, so for the more adventurous among you it might be worth a look.

New Additions to the Site

One addition to the Archive section which I have to mention is a Jazz Journal review of the initial ESP releases which mentions another favourite of mine, Fess Williams, in the same sentence as Albert Ayler. Fess Williams was a bandleader in the 1920s, who had a very eccentric saxophone and clarinet style. The Red Hot Jazz site has a number of Fess Williams tracks in Real Audio format and I’d recommend ‘Playing My Saxophone’ and ‘Sell It’ if you want to hear some truly weird saxophone sounds.

What’s Available page updated for June.


Filippo Borromeo, Maarten Derksen, Charles W. Taylor and Michael Wolfson.


June 3 2003

Thanks again to Charles Taylor, who’s now sent me the original, uncropped, colour slide of the photo of Albert Ayler in La Ferte Mace, France. The man on the left is the saxophonist, Lucius C. White, who is mentioned in Charles’ memories of Albert on the Ayler Remembered page.


July 1 2003


Henry Grimes:

The original interview with Henry Grimes in Signal To Noise magazine is now available online in their archives. For more news about Henry Grimes, check out Margaret Davis’ New York Jazz site.

New Additions to the Site

I’ve added a few more record reviews (mostly French) to the archives and one article, entitled ‘The New Jazz’ from a December 1966 issue of Newsweek. This concludes with a quote from Albert Ayler which I thought I’d repeat here:

‘Last week Ayler described what it feels like to be up on the stand in a club, the lights low, the smoke thick, the ice tinkling in glasses, the spotlight searing like a burning glass. “Yeah, yeah, that’s it. Right after that first sound comes, I just give all that’s in my heart to give—just give it all. I’m livin’ it, breathin’ it, drinkin’ it. I’m out in another dimension and I’m hummin’ a tune. I never stop. I’m hummin’ a tune when I’m talkin’ to you.”’

In the Tributes section I’ve added Roy Harper’s song, ‘One For All’ from his 1969 LP, ‘Folkjokeopus’. I came across this on a Roy Harper website and according to a 1980 magazine article, Harper wrote the song as a tribute to Ayler:

"I used to live with Albert Ayler and Sonny Murray when they were playing with Cecil Taylor in Denmark. They used to play in a place called the Montmartre Club in Copenhagen. They used to call me Tough Guy because I was always getting arrested for things. They eventually threw me out of Denmark. I was there, actually, the day Albert arrived from Finland, where he'd been playing on the radio. He asked Cecil Taylor, who was one of the most reticent guys I've ever met, he'd put Chris Spedding in the shade completely for reticence, if he could get up and blow with him. He got what you could've thought was a positive 'Fine', which is all you were going to get from Cecil, ever. He stood with his toes over the edge of the stage and just blew his head off. He was great. He could have been amazing. He did himself in with drugs, really, but he could have been amazing. He was like an authentic descendant of Ornette Coleman in a Coltrane way, in a wilder sense. I met Coltrane there, too, but only one. I was very much a junior to those guys, I mean, I was singing in the streets. I just appreciated what they did and kind of wondered at their musicality. I was very influenced by them." (Acoustic Music, July 1980)

What’s Available page updated for July.


Margaret Davis, Len Pogost, Howard Rambsy II and Matt Robin.


August 1 2003

New Additions to the Site

What’s Available page updated for August.


September 1 2003


Sorry, nothing new to report again - I’ve been busy with other projects during the summer (mainly involving Victorian poets). I will try to add some more material to the archive section in the coming month though.

I should mention that Guy Kopelowicz contacted me about two of his photos which I had on the page. I’d lifted these from a couple of magazines which did not credit the photographer and gave no further details about the photos. It turns out they were taken from the gallery of Judson Hall during the recording of Spirits Rejoice. I’d like to thank Guy for allowing me to keep the photos on the site.

One thing which I came across while doing the monthly update of the What’s Available page - 101 CDs have got a Dutch Import of GoinHome listed at £6.99. Whether this is a new release, old stock or just a mistake in the database I don’t know, but since it has been unavailable for a while now and considering the price I thought I should mention it here.

New Additions to the Site

What’s Available page updated for September.


Filippo Borromeo and Guy Kopelowicz


October 1 2003

New Additions to the Site

A 1971 article from the French magazine, Jazz Hot, added to the archives section.

What’s Available page updated for October.


November 1 2003


More news about two of Albert Ayler’s bassists - Henry Grimes and Steve Tintweiss:

Henry Grimes now has a smart new website at www.henrygrimes.com complete with biography, tour dates, photos and details of his new CD.

Steve Tintweiss is featured in the October issue of All About Jazz/New York which is available online (in .pdf format). The magazine also has an interview with Sunny Murray, a feature on Albert Mangelsdorff, and articles on two of my own favourites, Abbey Lincoln and Edmond Hall.

New Additions to the Site

A photo of Ayler’s appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival and another Jazz Hot article from 1965.

What’s Available page updated for November.


Filippo Borromeo, Margaret Davis, Kees Hazevoet, George Scala and Steve Tintweiss.


December 1 2003


Thanks to Maarten Derksen for sending me a copy of a long article about Albert Ayler from the November 1980 issue of the Dutch magazine, Jazz Nu, which contains the photograph above by Fritz van Swoll. There’s also a photo of Ayler’s performance at the funeral of John Coltrane which I’ve placed on the band photos page.*

I’ve added a couple of French articles by Yves Buin the the Archives: La Musique Contre Nous and Le Musée Imaginaire d’Albert Ayler . And the What’s Available page has been updated for December.

As another year closes, I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this site, and to all the Ayler fans out there - Happy Christmas!

*After posting this month’s update, Kees Hazevoet sent me another photo of the Coltrane funeral and one from 1958 of Albert Ayler playing in a U.S. army band.



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