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My Name Is Albert Ayler

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The Hilversum Session

Bells

Spirits Rejoice

Sonny’s Time Now

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Live In Europe 1964-66

Stockholm, Berlin 1966

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In Greenwich Village

Love Cry

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Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe

The Last Album

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Nuits De La Fondation Maeght

Holy Ghost

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2004
January to June

BAN203

archives

News from 2004 - January to June

January 1 2004

Happy New Year!

News

Maarten Derksen let me know about a radio programme on the Netherlands Concertzender station about Albert Ayler, The Art of the Improvisers - Albert Ayler (1936-1970): 'They heard my Cry' “ scheduled for January 13th. 10 - 11 p.m. and repeated on January 17th. at 5 - 6 p.m.

New Additions to the Site

Kees Hazevoet sent me the scan of the poster below (which is also included on the Jeff Schwartz site). This is probably the last concert the Ayler brothers played together but apart from the poster there’s not much information on the event. Which is unfortunate since the Hotel Diplomat gig seems to be the only occasion when Albert Ayler presented something other than a ‘straightforward’ jazz concert. According to Jeff Schwartz this was a performance of Albert’s opera: Songs of Zion--New Opera: Universal Message: Songs of David. So if there’s anyone out there who attended this event in April 1968 and can shed a little more light on what it was like, I’d be really happy to hear from you.

DIPLOMAT

What’s Available page updated for January.

Acknowledgements

Maarten Derksen and Kees Hazevoet.

***

February 1 2004

News

Peter Niklas Wilson

Richard Koloda recently informed me of the death last October (from leukaemia) of Peter Niklas Wilson. Wilson was the author of the only published full-length biography of Albert Ayler (of which, unfortunately there’s never been an English translation) - Spirits Rejoice: Albert Ayler und seine Botschaft” (“Spirits Rejoice: Albert Ayler and His Message”). Below is the obituary from the Jazz-Institut Darmstadt site:

“Our dear colleague, Peter Niklas Wilson, died over the weekend after a long fight with illness. Wilson was born in 1957 in Hamburg, studied musicology in Goettingen and Hamburg, achieved his PhD in 1984 and since then was one of the most profound publicists about jazz, New Music and the spheres between these two in Germany. In 1994 he became a professor of musicology, taught at Musikhochschule Hamburg and at the musicological department of Hamburg University, at the same time producing radio shows for German and Swiss radio stations, writing for the most important periodicals and playing the double bass. As a musician he worked with Anthony Braxton, John Tchicai, Malcolm Goldstein and many other musicians, was co-founder of a musicians' initiative in Hamburg and of a small record label producing contemporary improvised music. His books comprise standard studies about Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Anthony Braxton, Albert Ayler and Miles Davis, studies about contemporary music between jazz, improvised music and contemporary composed music. His books on Coleman and Rollins have also been available in English translations. Wilson was a regular guest at the Darmstadt Jazzforum, the biennial international conference on jazz research. He attended our last Jazzforum in September 2003 on "improvising..." giving a highly controversive paper about new paradigms in contemporary improvisation. He fought against his illness since more than a year, never giving up, always staying busy with the work and the music he cared for so much. We miss him as one of the most outspoken among German musicologists, an author with a highly entertaining, yet profound style, a careful analytical and critical mind and a beautiful, always reliable personality. We miss him as a dear colleague and as a good friend. We are sad about this loss, and will honor his memory. ( Wolfram Knauer, 28. October 2003)”

***

Alan Silva

Alan Silva, who played bass with Albert Ayler on the Love Cry and Greenwich Village sessions, has a new website at www.center-of-the-world.de. Silva is one of the great figures of the Free Jazz movement of the '60s and '70s and was responsible for one of its iconic recordings - the three volume LP set on the BYG/Actuel label of the Celestial Communication Orchestra. His site contains tributes to Frank Wright, Bobby Few and Muhammad Ali, as well as a complete discography of his own work and news of his current projects, including his series of 'Treasure Boxes'. Check it out.

silva

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Spiritual Unity and the Resurrection of Albert Ayler

Matthew Sumera is working on an essay 'concerning the construction of the myth and legacy of Albert Ayler', a draft of which is currently available to read online. A couple of years ago I was contacted by an American student who was doing a Jazz Studies course and I asked him what position Ayler held in the pantheon. He said Ayler was never mentioned - jazz history stopped with Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. So, it's refreshing to read Matthew Sumera's academic approach to Albert Ayler.

***

ESP

Thanks to Bill Schmidt for alerting me to developments on the ESP site, including the following:

"ESP has begun to convert its catalog to surround sound dvd, utilizing a proprietary system called SONATURE (www.sonature.com). The first titles to become available on dvd will be Albert Ayler, (Spiritual Unity, Bells, Spirits Rejoice, and a previously unissued cd and dvd of the concert at the Maeght Foundation)"

Presumably the Maeght Foundation cd is the material from the July 25th concert which was given a limited release on the Italian Blu Jazz label, but so far I haven't been able to confirm this. For a brief, ecstatic moment I did think that the mention of a 'dvd of the concert at the Maeght Foundation' meant that ESP were finally going to release the Ayler film - the 50 minute documentary by Jean-Michel Meurice of Ayler's appearance at the Maeght Foundation, which, as I'm sure everybody knows by now, is the only piece of film/video footage of an Ayler concert in existence - but I think it just means that the 'previously unissued cd' will also be released in the audio dvd format. Pity.

ESP have also re-opened their Online Store so that the entire back catalog can be purchased direct from them. This is good news since it provides a stable source for the classic Ayler ESP albums - the only downside is that ESP are not following the example of the Get Back reissues so there's no coupling of Bells with Prophecy, and Live at Slug's Saloon is being issued (like the original LPs) in two volumes. All the CDs are available for $12.99 plus shipping.

Finally, there's a terrific photo of Albert Ayler as a young lad on the ESP Images page.

***

New Additions to the Site

A few months ago I asked Guy Kopelowicz, who took the photos of the Spirits Rejoice session on the Band Photos page, if he'd care to contribute a piece to the Ayler Remembered page. I was expecting a few sentences. Instead, Guy has written a detailed account of his meetings with Albert Ayler. So, rather than just add a link, I thought I should reproduce the article in full here. I'd like to thank Guy for taking the time to do this.

     “The first time I heard Albert Ayler was when I purchased the 'Spiritual Unity' ESP album that came out in 1964. The music just enthralled me. By the time 'Bells' came out, I was a devoted Ayler fan.
     There was very little documentation on the new jazz scene in the French magazines (or elsewhere) around then. In the summer of 1965 I had a three-week holiday from my regular job and decided to head to New York for a look-see at the scene and eventually report all about it in the magazine Jazz Hot where I was publishing some articles.
     So in September of that year I was on my way to New York to explore the new music that was being produced there and listen to the musicians who were involved in the so-called October Revolution.
     Ayler was a focal point.
A few hours after my arrival, I ran into Sonny Murray who was standing outside Slug's on the Lower East Side. Murray was helping there in the capacity of club bouncer. He had been offered the part-time job through Henry Grimes with whom he was sharing a flat. Grimes was playing at the club that night as part of the Charles Lloyd quartet.
     I asked Murray if he knew where I could meet Albert Ayler. Murray said that Ayler had been inside the club that evening but had left shortly before I walked in. Murray added that Ayler would be making a recording session soon and that this would be probably the only opportunity to hear Ayler during my three-week stay.
     The session was scheduled for September 23 at Judson Hall on West 57th Street opposite the Carnegie Hall.
     When I arrived there, most of the musicians were already there. Gary Peacock who travelled by train from Boston was the last one to arrive. While waiting for him to show up, Albert and Don Ayler and Charles Tyler rehearsed music in unison.
     The music they were playing turned out to be the French national anthem 'La Marseillaise'. For an instant, I was presumptuous enough to think it was a musical welcome for me.
     Albert Ayler was blowing and marching around the studio. The engineer stopped him to indicate how far he could move around the premises when the recording session would actually take place.
     Call Cobbs, a veteran musician who played piano with Johnny Hodges in 1954 when the Hodges band included John Coltrane, was in a corner getting acquainted with an electric harpsichord he would use for the tune 'Angel' which he played with Ayler and the rhythm section.
     There had been no previous rehearsal of the all new material. Soon after that, Gary Peacock arrived. The full band assembled for a quick soundcheck and at 4.30 pm the recording proceeding started. Two hours later, all the music for the album had been recorded.
     During the session, Albert Ayler gave quick indications to the musicians on the next tune, then the music was taped.
     Bernard Stollman who had stepped in before the session began and had asked Ayler and the musicians if everything was all right, went into the recording booth and stayed there throughout the session.
     I was also impressed by Sonny Murray's drumming. His set-up was as simple as could be imagined; one bass drum, one snare drum, one hi-hat and a single cymbal. He was using metal drumsticks that looked to be made out of aluminium. In addition to the musicians involved, present at the session were Stollman, the recording engineer, pianist Burton Greene and a photographer who turned out to be W. Eugene Smith, one of the greatest photographers of all time. I was awe-struck by Smith's presence. I was a novice photographer then and my equipment was even more minimal than Murray's drum kit. I had brought a camera to take some photos at the session. I had a simple reflex camera with the basic 50mm lens. Smith was equipped with four Mamiya reflex cameras. I talked to him before the session got underway.
     Smith couldn't be nicer after I mentioned how much I admired his photos and did everything to make me feel at ease.
     Then, the music came.
     I can't recall any equivalent to the impact of hearing Albert Ayler's music live. The full blast of his (and his players') sound just about shattered one's ears and had your mouth wide open in amazement. The impact was overwhelming. You loved it or you hated it. I loved it. The first tune which became the album title turned out to be a variation on 'La Marseillaise'. I couldn't believe what Ayler and his musicians played and was totally enthralled by its energy. No need to elaborate further on the music at that point, the ESP album speaks for itself.
     There were no second takes. 'It's always like that with Albert', Murray told me. When the tunes were done, the musicians went to the control booth to listen to the tapes. They seemed happy with the music.

     I talked at length with Albert Ayler at a party which was held at the Lafayette Street apartment of Dutch jazz fan Elisabeth Van Der Mei a few days after the session. Elisabeth had moved in from Holland in 1964 and was very much into the new music and had made friends with all the musicians. She was hired as assistant by Bernard Stollman shortly after the 'Spirits Rejoice' session. Ayler had a lot of memories of his stay - when he was in the Army - in Orleans, France in 1960 and had sojourned there for nearly two years. He also mentioned travelling to Paris to jam at clubs whenever he could. I was pretty familiar with that scene but I had missed his appearances since I was a conscript in the French Army in Algeria at that time. We had fun when we found out we had marched at the same Bastille Day parade in 1960. I did not remember there was a US Army unit at that parade but Ayler confirmed he was in that one and had marched down the Champs-Elysées. I had marched the same avenue during that parade with my French Army infantry regiment.
     Ayler was at the party with his brother Donald, Charles Tyler and the Cleveland trumpet player Norman Howard. Ayler told me he never rehearsed with his musicians. He said that he and the musicians around him felt the same things and that was enough.
     Albert Ayler was opening later in the week at Slug's and he invited me to the club but it turned out the opening night was to be held on the day I was to return to Paris.

     When the Ayler band played at the Paris Jazz Festival in 1966, I went to the hotel he and his band were staying to pick him up and head to the Salle Pleyel for the concert, which is out now on the HatArt release. There was a small problem before the musicians left the hotel because some of their luggage had not arrived in time. Albert Ayler was desperately looking for proper shoes to appear at the concert. He even asked me if I could loan him my shoes. It turned out they were too big for him. He however managed to get a decent pair. The Paris audience reaction to Ayler's music was interesting. The whole audience was stunned. A number of people could not stand the intensity of the music and booed but most of the audience just enjoyed it and Ayler and his musicians got a lot of applause.
     There were two concerts that evening. The first one is the one that is on records. The second which was held very late in the evening was sparsely attended.
     Cecil Taylor was at the concerts. He congratulated Ayler at length when they met after Ayler's appearance.
     Actress Catherine Deneuve also attended the concert. She was with her then companion British photographer David Bailey.
     When Ayler appeared at the 'Nuits de la Fondation Maeght' concerts in Saint-Paul de Vence, on the French Riviera, in late July 1970 I tried to go there but could not leave Paris because of work commitments. And when a few days after those concerts, Alain Corneau, a friend who turned later into one of the best-known French film directors, called me at work from Nice airport after the concerts to ask if I could rush to Orly airport to meet Ayler and his musicians to help them through the airport to catch their plane home, I had to tell him I just could not since I was in the middle of a very busy assignment. I felt terrible.
     Four months later, Ayler would be gone.”

                                                                                                                                                                   Guy Kopelowicz

***

What’s Available page updated for February.

Acknowledgements

Richard Koloda, Guy Kopelowicz, Bill Schmidt, Alan Silva and Matthew Sumera.

***

March 1 2004

News

Revenant Records - Albert Ayler Box Set

Rumours of a box set of the unreleased recordings of Albert Ayler from Revenant Records began to appear last year in the music press. I decided to wait awhile before mentioning it here in case it fell by the wayside but I can now announce that Holy Ghost, a 9 CD set of previously unissued Ayler material, is due to be released on October 5, 2004.

The importance of this can't be stressed enough. One of the reasons I started this site was a fear that Albert Ayler was in danger of being forgotten by the jazz historians and academics, sidelined as a minor figure in the Free Jazz movement of the 1960s. The extreme nature of some of his music, its wild originality and uniqueness, combined with the mysterious circumstances surrounding his early death, have assured his cult status, but he has never really achieved 'respectability' amongst the critical community. I get the impression that while Coltrane, Coleman and Taylor are all comfortably housed in the Jazz Hall of Fame, Albert Ayler is still waiting in the corridor outside. The main reason for this is the Ayler discography. It begins with The First Recordings (which I don't think anyone would claim is a great album) and (almost) ends with the last three Impulse titles (which...ditto). In between there's some of the greatest music (not just jazz - but music) ever recorded, but in assessing Ayler's status, the critic has to deal with the entire body of work. If you'll allow me a metaphor, Ayler's recorded legacy is a jigsaw with some boring grass at the bottom, some equally boring sky at the top, an incredibly interesting scene in the middle, lots of gaps in the whole picture and no side pieces at all. The importance of the Revenant box set is that it will provide the majority of these missing pieces so that the critic will finally be presented with a fairly complete picture of Albert Ayler.

Critics love consistency, they like to know where an artist came from and where he was going. Coltrane will always be king because his career was so well-documented. With Ayler there was never this consistency and his music lacked context. To give just one example, on all of his records (apart from Sonny's Time Now and New York Eye and Ear Control) he was the leader. So what was he like playing as a sideman in the band of another avant-garde genius? The Revenant box set answers the question by including the recording Ayler made with the Cecil Taylor unit for Danish TV in November 1962.

The Cecil Taylor tape and some of the other Revenant material has been circulating amongst 'collectors' for years, and I don't mean to denigrate the work done by the team which produced last year's 'Ayler Tree', but that was an underground activity and the results were distributed among the cognoscenti. I'm not suggesting that the Revenant set will cause sleepless nights for the likes of Diana Krall, but what it will do is shift all of this Ayler material - 9 CDs worth - from the underground up into the light of day, thus becoming part of the canon of Ayler's recorded legacy and as such available for all future critics and academics to ponder over in the years to come.

Over the next few months, as further details of the Revenant set are released, I will add them here - what's included and what's not. But for now I'll just mention two more items in the set. One is the Ayler brothers' performance of 'Our Prayer' at St Paul’s Lutheran Church, New York, on July 21st, 1967 at the funeral of John Coltrane - because of the circumstances in which it was recorded one of the most emotionally intense pieces of music I've ever heard. This will be its first legitimate release. The other is a track which I've never heard and which as far as I know has not been circulating among the 'collectors'. I mention it here partly to offset any impression that Revenant have taken the easy route of compiling the 'usual suspects' from the bootleg underworld, but mostly because it ties in neatly with the Cecil Taylor recording mentioned above. That was Ayler the sideman when he was starting out in 1962, and this is Ayler as a sideman in 1968:

Pharaoh Sanders Ensemble: Sanders (tenor saxophone); Chris Capers (trumpet); Albert Ayler (tenor saxophone); Noah Howard (alto saxophone); Dave Burrell (piano); Sirone (bass); Roger Blank (drums)

1. Venus (Sanders) 22:30

***

ESP

Following up last month’s item about ESP releasing Ayler albums in a new DVD format and the mention of new material from the Fondation Maeght concert, I emailed the company for clarification and received the following from Bernard Stollman:

“We are contemplating release of previously unissued recordings from the FM festival on cd and dvd audio (surround sound), but we do not have possession of the film, much as we would like to, since the foundation has not, thus far, given its support.”

Still a bit vague on the details of what the ‘previously unissued recordings’ are - hopefully it’s the Italian BluJazz material, which given the curious circumstances of its release could still qualify - but a definite answer as regards the film. It occurred to me that the Fondation Maeght film has now been stuck in that vault in France for 34 years, the same number that Albert Ayler walked the planet.

***

Perfect Sound Forever

Ronald Wilson sent me a link to an Ayler article on the Perfect Sound Forever webzine - The Real Godfathers of Punk by Billy Bob Hargus. I found another one on there which contains a mention of Ayler, The Occult and Music by Gary Gomes.

***

New Additions to the Site

Guy Kopelowicz sent me his original article from the French magazine, Jazz Hot, which contains his eyewitness account of the recording of Spirits Rejoice. I’ve added this to the Articles section of the Archives.

What’s Available page updated for March.

***

Acknowledgements

Dean Blackwood, Brian Carpenter, Gary Kingsbury, Guy Kopelowicz, Bernard Stollman, Marcia Tiede and Ronald Wilson.

***

April 1 2004

News

Revenant Records - Albert Ayler Box Set

The Cleveland La Cave Tapes

The last I heard about the Cleveland La Cave tapes was that they'd been lost. The sessions are mentioned in the Mike Hames discography but as far as I know the tapes have never done the rounds of the bootleg collectors. So it goes without saying that their inclusion in the Revenant box set is quite amazing. The details I have at present are as follows:

Albert Ayler Quintet: Ayler (tenor saxophone) with Donald Ayler (trumpet); Michel Sampson (violin); Mutawef Shaheed (fka Clyde Shy) (bass); Ronald Shannon Jackson (drums).
Recorded April 16, 1966 at La Cave: Cleveland, Ohio

1. spoken intro (1:00)
2. Spirits Rejoice (4:41)
3. D.C. (6:09)
4. untitled (7:04)
5. Our Prayer (6:50)
6. spoken intro (0:25)
7. untitled (16:01)
8. Ghosts (6:35)

Albert Ayler Quintet: Ayler (tenor saxophone) with Donald Ayler (trumpet); Michel Sampson (violin); Mutawef Shaheed (fka Clyde Shy) (bass); Ronald Shannon Jackson (drums); Frank Wright (ts) sits in on several tunes.
Recorded April 17, 1966 at La Cave: Cleveland, Ohio

1. Spirits Rejoice (6:47)
2. Medley:
Prophet - Ghosts - Spiritual Bells (15:05)
3. Our Prayer (10:07)
4. Untitled/Truth Is Marching In (16:19)
5. Spirits (9:40)
6. Medley:
Zion Hill - Spirits - Spiritual Bells (22:34)
7. Untitled (9:38)

To put these sessions into some discographical context: Spirits Rejoice was recorded in September '65, then Ayler plays on the Sonny's Time Now session in November '65, then comes La Cave and a month later, in May '66, Live at Slug's Saloon. Presumably the La Cave sessions will resemble Live at Slug's Saloon, since apart from the bass player (Clyde Shy was a longtime friend of the Ayler brothers in Cleveland) it's the same line-up, but the earlier session is interesting for a couple of reasons. According to Richard Koloda, who kindly sent me some background information about the session, the altoist Charles Tyler quit the band during rehearsals for the show, and this was also the first appearance of the violinist, Michel Sampson, with the group, so the recording catches Ayler at one of those transitional points in his career. It is also the only known recording of Ayler playing in his home town of Cleveland.

As for La Cave itself, it's probably best known outside Cleveland for a 1968 bootleg recording of the Velvet Underground. The club was situated on Euclid Avenue, near the campus of Western Reserve University. I found this brief history on a Gordon Lightfoot site:
     "La Cave opened in 1962 in the University Circle area of Cleveland. It began as a coffeehouse folk club but eventually became a rock 'n' roll club. The site had been a chinese restaurant and bowling alley. La Cave was in the basement and had two hundred seats. In the club's early folk days, it presented Simon & Garfunkel, Buffy Sainte Marie, Judy Collins, Ian & Sylvia, and of course Gord Lightfoot. In the late '60's the club introduced Clevelanders to Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and Blood, Sweat, and Tears, to name a few. Due to declining ticket sales, debt and legal issues, La Cave closed in 1969. The site is now part of University Hospitals of Cleveland."
And this from a Velvet Underground site:
     "Located beneath the local social security offices.... La Cave's dimensions were 60'x125' with a seating capacity of 250-300... a dimly lit rectangle with burlap and church pews covering one long wall, the stage on the other, and tables in between. The stage was a platform 10 inch high with barely enough room for the Velvets stage gear."

Richard Koloda reckons that the Albert Ayler Quintet was the only jazz band to appear at La Cave. Ayler's support act was a folk musician, Dick Wedler, whose only recollection of the event is that the audience were better dressed than usual. As far as the quality of the recording is concerned, I have no idea what to expect. Ayler asked a friend to tape the concerts so at least the recording was authorised and not just bootlegged by someone in the audience.

***

New Additions to the Site

George Scala alerted me to an item on ebay, the French Stateside version of The First Recordings. Usually I just nick the cover photo and place it on the relevant page, but reading the description of this particular item I came across the following: “Rare french pressing with a text by H.P. Lovecraft on back cover”. I confess I’m intrigued. If anyone has a copy and can let me know which bit of Lovecraft they used I’d be grateful if you’d let me know.

What’s Available page updated for April.

***

Acknowledgements

Dean Blackwood, Richard Koloda, George Scala and Steve Tintweiss.

***

May 1 2004

News

Revenant Records - Albert Ayler Box Set

When Dean Blackwood of Revenant Records first sent me a list of some of the items to be included in the forthcoming box set there was one particular session which held no interest for me whatsoever - a rehearsal session for the New Grass LP. New Grass is one of two 'official' Ayler albums which I don't possess in some form or other, but I did once own a copy for as long as it takes to listen to it. I think I've mentioned the story somewhere else on this site about a friend of mine buying New Grass, hating it, giving it to me, and my chucking it away in disgust. New Grass I've always accepted as Ayler's aberration, selling his soul to Bob Thiele for a mess of pottage, selling out his hardcore avant-garde fans, betraying his brother Don, and beginning the inevitable slide into the East River. So, more of New Grass I don't need to hear. Then Mr. Blackwood kindly sends me a CD sampler of some of the tracks from the big box and there's this one 6 minute 'untitled blues' with a rock steady backing of piano, bass and drums with Albert blistering away over the top and, of course, it's from the New Grass rehearsal session. It is quite amazing. I'm not saying it changes my opinion of New Grass, but it does mean that there's more to the story of that record than we have so far been told.

Albert Ayler (tenor saxophone, vocal, recitation); Call Cobbs (piano, Rocksichord); Bill Folwell (electric bass guitar); Bernard Purdie (drums); Mary Parks (vocal, tambourine); one Unknown (vocal).
Recorded ca. late August, 1968 in New York City

1. untitled blues [demo] (6:17)
2. untitled sermon [demo] (1:45)
3. Thank God for Women [demo] (10:22)
4. New Ghosts [demo] (6:40)

***

New Slug’s

A new, remastered version of Live at Slugs Saloon is due for release on 27th April from Lonehill. It’s a single CD, entitled ‘Complete Live at Slug's Saloon Recordings’ and according to the blurb offers: ‘The complete performance for the first time on one CD. This outstanding 66- minute set was recorded May 1, 1966.’ I’m not sure yet but it would appear that this is the version of Slug’s which was released in 1990 by the German label, Jazz Door, as In Memory Of Albert Ayler - at least the running time’s the same. Although In Memory Of Albert Ayler is a single CD version of the tracks on the original two volume LP release (on the Italian Base label), it does not include the extra 16 minute track, ‘Initiation’ which first appeared on a Japanese version of Slug’s. I haven’t seen a track listing for the Lonehill release yet, but if it doesn’t contain ‘Initiation’ and you’re looking to buy the ‘complete performance’ then it’s available as two separate CDs from ESP, or you may still be able to find the double CD version on the Get Back label which will probably be the cheaper option.

***

The Weird and Wacky World of Albert Ayler - Flying Saucers and H. P. Lovecraft

After last month's piece about the La Cave sessions, Richard Koloda sent me a link to the Cleveland Scene about a UFO sighting which occurred on April 17th 1966 when Albert Ayler was playing in his home town. Since the article was dated April 1st I was a little sceptical at first but it turned out to be genuine, or as genuine as all these things are. According to Richard: "It made the headlines of the next day's Plain Dealer and was the inspiration for the chase scene in Close Encounters (apparently the cops chased it into Pennsylvania from Mantua Ohio which is ca. 10 miles from AA's house)." Maybe Sun Ra was checking out the competition.

And thanks to Guy Kopelowicz who put my mind at ease regarding which bits of H.P. Lovecraft some desperate French sleevenote writer chose to describe the decidedly uncthulhu-like First Recordings. "The whining of those impious flutes was shocking, and he would have given worlds for some even half-normal sound; but these toad-things had no voices, and the slaves did not talk." This is probably only of interest to me, but Guy sent me a photocopy of the back cover of the Stateside LP and I tracked down the quotes to 'The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath', so if you’re interested in the French Lovecraft/Ayler connection, you’ll find them here. At least it’s solved one mystery for me, that weird cover of the single taken from New Grass - that was also issued by Stateside in France.

***

New Additions to the Site

There are some new photos on the site thanks to Kees Hazevoet, including one from the Sheherezade in Amsterdam from November 1964, and others from the Hilversum session and the 1966 Rotterdam concert. Check out the Photo pages in the Archives.

What’s Available page updated for May.

***

Acknowledgements

Dean Blackwood, Olivier Fromentin, Gary Gray, Kees Hazevoet, Mika Kauhanen, Richard Koloda and Guy Kopelowicz.

“Farewell, Randolph Carter, and beware; for I am Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos."

***

June 1 2004

News

Revenant Records - Albert Ayler Box Set

With Albert Ayler, sometimes it's not the purely musical moments which raise the hairs on the back of the neck: the laugh at the end of 'Change Has Come' on Live in Greenwich Village, an involuntary explosion of pure joy; the reaction of the crowd to 'Ghosts' on the BluJazz bootleg of the first Fondation Maeght concert with that feeling of all sins being forgiven; and then there's that moment of magic at the end of the spoken introduction on My Name Is Albert Ayler when Ayler says “One day everything will be as it should be” and 'Bye, Bye Blackbird' fades in. Over the years that brief bit of autobiography has assumed much greater significance than was ever intended. It probably made sense to Ayler and the record's producers to include the spoken introduction since this was Ayler's debut album, but as far as I know no one else ever did it. In fact, one American release of 'My Name' dispensed with it altogether, probably because it didn't fit the image of the wild, free, iconoclastic jazzman that they were trying to promote - that quiet, courteous voice, telling the world that he also played golf in high school, did not really conform to the politics of the time and the marketing schemes adopted for the new black music. Ayler probably thought little of it back in 1963, there'd be plenty of opportunities to get his message across and let his voice be heard - plenty of interviews, radio and TV broadcasts, even a documentary film. But, everything seemed to vanish apart from that 1 minute 20 seconds of a young, hesitant but essentially optimistic Albert telling us that “one day everything will be as it should be”. So, it will be interesting to see how our perceptions of the spoken introduction on 'My Name' change when Revenant release their box set which includes 2 CDs of Ayler interviews. For any other artist the announcement that a 9 CD set contains only 7 CDs of music would be greeted with cries of foul (or "what a swizz" as we used to say), but not so with Ayler. So little documentary evidence remains of the man that it could be said that the two interview CDs are perhaps the most important of the lot, particularly to jazz historians. Not only do they contain two brief interviews from Denmark, one from 1964, the other from the European tour of '66, Revenant have also secured the complete Daniel Caux interview which was recently reprinted in The Wire. And to top it all there's an interview with a Japanese journalist, Kiyoshi Koyama, recorded at the Fondation Maeght in July 1970 which is almost an hour long. So, come October we're going to be hearing Albert Ayler speak again, and this time for a lot longer than 1 minute 20 seconds.

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Ayler’s Influence

David Willems emailed the other day to ask if I could point him in the direction of other musicians who might be carrying on Ayler’s musical style, particularly that of the Live in Greenwich Village period. I had to confess my ignorance on the matter but I said I’d mention it on the message board (there is one on the site, although it doesn’t get much use - you’ll find it at the bottom of this page) and see if anyone else could help. I’ve told him about the Versions and Tributes pages on the site which should give him some idea of where to look, but if anyone knows of contemporary ‘Greenwich Village’ style Aylers out there, leave him a message on the board.

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New Additions to the Site

I’m finally getting round to adding some Dutch articles which Maarten Derksen sent to me a while ago to the Archives section. This month there’s a Peter Smids article from Gandalf magazine (very Sixties).

What’s Available page updated for June.

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Acknowledgements

Dean Blackwood and Maarten Derksen.

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