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2012
January to May

BAN203

archives

News from 2012 - January to May

January 1 2012

News

Edward Ayler

Edward Ayler, the father of Albert and Don, passed away on Wednesday, 14th December 2011, at the age of 98. He was buried at the Highland Park Cemetery, Cleveland, on 20th December. Beyond this, details are scarce and I only came across the information on the tributes.com site.

edwardayler

[Edward Ayler 2/11/1913 - 14/12/2011
The man who first taught Albert Ayler how to play the saxophone.]
(photo courtesy of Richard Koloda)

*

Sam Rivers

December also saw the passing of Sam Rivers at the age of 88. There are obituaries in the New York Times and the Guardian, a news item on youtube, and more information on the official Sam Rivers site. During a long career, as well as leading his own bands, Sam Rivers also played with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Andrew Hill, Cecil Taylor and at least once with Albert Ayler - a performance captured on the two revelatory tracks recorded at New York’s Town Hall on January 11th 1969 by the Don Ayler Sextet and included in the Holy Ghost box.

SamRivers

[Sam Rivers 25/9/1923 - 26/12/2011]

*

So, a rather gloomy end to 2011. Time to drown our sorrows and raise a glass to better times ahead. Cheers, Yair.

***

February 1 2012

The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Thanks to Richard Koloda who finagled me access to the archives of the Cleveland Plain Dealer which turned up the following Ayler-related items:

Albert at 8 (or 9?)

cpl17dec4502

Cleveland Plain Dealer (17 December, 1945 - p.11)

Albert the Golfer

cpl4aug532
cpl4aug531

Cleveland Plain Dealer (4 August, 1953 - p.20)

cpl3jun5502

Cleveland Plain Dealer (3 June, 1955 - p.32)

Albert and Don Ayler - the avant-garde

cpl13jul6502

The Plain Dealer (13 July, 1965 - p.19)

cpl24mar661
cpl24mar662

The Plain Dealer (24 March, 1966 - p.29)

cpl12apr6602

The Plain Dealer (12 April, 1966 - p.27)

cpd26jan67

The Plain Dealer (26 January, 1967 - p.1)

cpl27jan67thmb

The Plain Dealer (27 January, 1967 - p.3)
[click image for larger version]

cpl6feb6702

The Plain Dealer (6 February, 1967 - p.19)

Albert Ayler - obituary

cpl3dec70

The Plain Dealer (3 December, 1970 - p.10)

cpl3dec702

The Plain Dealer (3 December, 1970 - p.11)

cpl18jan71

The Plain Dealer (18 January, 1971)

cpl12apr7102

The Plain Dealer (12 April, 1971)

cpl31may71

The Plain Dealer (31 May, 1971)

Don Ayler

cpldon25aug53

Cleveland Plain Dealer (25 August, 1953 - p.12)

cpldon13may75

The Plain Dealer (13 May, 1975)

cpldonpeabody1

cpldonpeabody2

The Plain Dealer (31 August, 1979)

cpldongig3

The Plain Dealer (3 May, 1981)

And still waxing nostalgic, here’s a photo of the young Albert, sent by Yair Dagan:

youngal03

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Frank Wright - Blues for Albert Ayler

fwrightcd
frankwright

Yair also found this upcoming ESP release of a Frank Wright session.
ESP-Disk is now releasing Frank Wright's tribute concert to tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler titled Blues For Albert Ayler in a 6 part suite. This high energy performance was recorded live at Rashied Ali's club ‘Ali’s Alley’ on July 17th, 1974. This is the Right Reverend Frank Wright, live and raw, in his element, with a most impressive band. Frank Wright plays tenor sax and bass clarinet, with an electrifying performance from guitarist James ‘Blood’ Ulmer, bassist Benny Wilson and drummer Rashied Ali.”
Curiously, there’s no mention of it on the ESP site and it doesn’t appear to be available yet, but there is a promo video on youtube (which, also curiously, contains images of Albert taken from Kasper Collin’s film, My Name Is Albert Ayler).

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More ESP

Pierre Crépon let me know about a new book about ESP due to be published in May.

alwaysintrouble

Always in Trouble by Jason Weiss is due to be published by the Wesleyan University Press (304 pp. $24.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7159-5) and here’s the blurb:

“In 1964, Bernard Stollman launched the independent record label ESP-Disk’ (short for “Esperanto Disko”) in New York City to document the free jazz movement there, beginning with iconic saxophonist Albert Ayler. A bare-bones enterprise, ESP was in the right place at the right time, producing albums by artists like Pharoah Sanders, Sun Ra, Giuseppi Logan, and Patty Waters. Soon the label broadened its catalog, including recordings by folk-rock bands like The Fugs and Pearls Before Swine, as well as Timothy Leary, William Burroughs, and Charles Manson. But the label quickly ran into difficulties and, due to the politically subversive nature of some productions and sloppy business practices, it folded in 1974. The story of ESP-Disk is told through a multitude of voices—first by Stollman, as he recounts the improbable life of the label, and then by many of the artists involved. The result is a fascinating account of the music and the times. Includes interviews with Amiri Baraka, Gato Barbieri, Milford Graves, Roswell Rudd, Sirone, Sonny Simmons, James Zitro, Tom Rapp, Sunny Murray, and many more.”

More information about the book, including a full table of contents, is available here. And if you know nothing at all about ESP and can’t wait till May, Jeff Schwartz’s article, ‘“You Never Heard Such Sounds in Your Life”: ESP-Disk and the Business of Free Jazz’ is available online.

***

Ayler in Buffalo, 1968

Kees Hazevoet sent me an item he’d come across on the Organissimo jazz board regarding the possible existence of further Ayler film footage:

“Albert Ayler (w. Donald Ayler, Call Cobbs, Junie Booth, and Milford Graves) was filmed at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo in late winter/early spring of 1968. I have no idea what happened with the film. Cecil Taylor’s group was also filmed some time earlier - all part of the same arts festival. I attended both concerts and remember the cameras being present.”

When the Holy Ghost box was released I went through the list of unreleased recordings on this site and culled the ones which seemed a bit dubious, one of which was the Buffalo ‘TV appearance’. The Holy Ghost book gives March 9th, 1968 as the date for the Ayler group’s appearance at the ‘Second Buffalo Festival of the Arts Today’ at Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State University (rather than the Albright-Knox Art Gallery), but doesn’t mention the concert being recorded. When Kees sent me the above I thought I should have a quick look round the internet to see if anything else turned up and I found the following extract from This Life of Sounds: Evenings for New Music in Buffalo by Renée Levine Packer (Oxford University Press, 2010. pp.70-71):

“In March 1968, a second, equally enthralling Festival of the Arts Today took place, once again with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the university leading the way. This one featured premieres of two new plays by Edward Albee, Box and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, along with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company presenting the new work Rainforest in collaboration with Andy Warhol and David Tudor, who created the live electronic music score. There were also three concerts with the CAs, including works by Lukas Foss, John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Luciano Berio, and David Rosenboom, and a performance of three sections of Henri Pousseur’s Votre Faust, a “fantasy in the manner of an opera.” Other events included lectures by Buckminster Fuller and the Greek architect and city planner Constantin Doxiades and panels on theater with Albee and the director Alan Schneider. Additional highlights were appearances by the jazz artists Cecil Taylor and the Ayler Brothers, poetry readings by Louis Zukofsky, Charles Olsen, and Allen Ginsberg, films by Jonas Mekas, and more iconoclastic performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic. The Public Broadcast Laboratory obtained the rights to cover the entire festival, which was filmed and edited by the noted filmmakers Richard Leacock and D. A. Pennebaker. Once again, the festival was an unqualified success, prompting a review by John Dwyer in the Buffalo Evening News under the headline, ‘Futuristic Music Brings Drama, Creative Brilliance to Festival’.”

The Public Broadcast Laboratory was a two hour television programme broadcast in the United States on Sunday evenings, beginning in November 1967, featuring a range of documentaries. Presumably the Buffalo recordings would have been edited together into one film, and considering the range and quality of the other ‘acts’, if Ayler made the cut, it would only have been a fragment of his performance. However, I can’t find any evidence that the programme was actually broadcast, or even made - the imdb entries on Richard Leacock and D. A. Pennebaker don’t mention their involvement. If Ayler had appeared on US TV in 1968 then you’d expect more ripples than the odd reminiscence here and there of cameras being spotted at the concert. Which raises the question of whether any of the footage remains. The comments following a blog entry about PBL by Steve Gorelick, would indicate not. More information on PBL is available on the Television Obscurities site, including the fact that PBS donated its archives (including 53 episodes of PBL) to the Library of Congress. I did try a quick search of their collections, but couldn’t find anything related to Ayler beyond the usual.

***

Bits and pieces

Thanks to:

Richard Leigh, who let me know about the second part of the BBC programme, Black Is A Country, which was broadcast on Radio 4 at 11.30 am on 12th January. I caught up with it on iplayer, but it’s no longer available. It concerned the music which was generated by the Black Power movement in the late ’60s and early ’70s and included a short clip of ‘Black Art’ from Sonny’s Time Now. I remember the great controversy in the pages of Jazz Monthly regarding that track when the record first appeared over here in Britain in 1968, so it seems odd to hear a bit of it played on the BBC’s old Home Service on a Thursday morning.

*

George Wells, who was in the army with Albert and kindly sent a brief piece for the Ayler Remembered page. George is currently singing with Yoko Noge’s Jazz Me Blues Band at Andy’s Jazz Club in Chicago.

*

Len, who dares to enter the troubled waters of Ayler tune titles by pointing out that ‘Dancing Flowers’ and ‘Love Flower’ on Love Cry are probably different takes of the same tune, and ‘Universal Message’ on Nuits de la Fondation Maeght is ‘Zion Hill’.

*

Yair Dagan who found a group in New Zealand called the Spoilers of Utopia Brass Band:

spoilersofutopia

“Formed in August 2011, the Spoilers are the most apocalyptic Brass band in the universe at present. They have been presenting the music of American jazz composer Albert Ayler, Kiwi composers (McGlashan, Bell and Melhuish) as well as pleasant folk ditties,  anthems, and exalted, exuberant bugle-fired performances forged in brimstone.”

***

And finally ... that Albert Ayler’s a bit rubbish inner ’e.

Yair does admit that he’s now scraping the bottom of the barrel (or the bin) for examples of Ayler art to add to the Images of Albert section of the site, including this one. There are more pictures of the Ayler bin on Pedro Dorian’s site - I wonder if he’d come round and do mine. I just went down the more minimalist route of a plain white ‘18’.

pedrodorian102

But Yair did find this gem - a reworking of the iconic Slugs’ photo by Pep Rius, which is a colourful way to end this month’s, rather marathon, update.

peprius02

March 1 2012

After last month’s marathon, we’re back to the more minimalist monthly updates of yore. Just a couple of mentions of Ayler tributes. The first, spotted by Pierre Crépon, is a 19 minute track called ‘Albert Ayler/Know Your Enemy’ on the album Black Man’s Blues by Billy Bang’s Survival Ensemble. This was recorded in New York on 29th May 1977 and is now released for the first time by the Lithuanian label, NoBusiness Records, along with New York Collage in a 2 CD set. Further information is available on the NoBusiness site and there’s a review on the All About Jazz site.

billybang

And the other, spotted by Yair Dagan, is yet another version of ‘Ghosts’ - but rather nicely done - on the downloadable album, also called Ghosts, by the band, Old New Things. Click the picture to go to their site and listen to the track.

oldnewthingsbg

Yair also sent a link to an article about Henry Grimes in the Haaretz Daily Newspaper previewing his recent concert at the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival.

Richard Koloda sent a link to an article about Cleveland’s old jazz scene - no mention of Albert, though.

And I stirred myself long enough to add a few more LP covers and CD booklets to the site - Love Cry and the various manifestations of
 In Greenwich Village.

***

April 1 2012

It’s Ayler, Jim, but not as we know it

As I’ve banged on about before, although I like the various ‘free jazz’ versions of Ayler tunes and tributes to Albert, I do prefer the attempts to shift the music into other areas, like Bernard Stepien’s mix of Ayler with Christmas carols. A few days ago I found myself entranced by a similar venture - the tunes of Albert Ayler arranged for a chamber music group consisting of flute, violin, cello, double bass, guitar and accordion. It’s the work of Kalle Autio, a young composer from Finland, and I thought it was quite delightful. Admittedly, I do have a passion for string quartets, and I also have a healthy respect for all those earlier attempts to mix jazz with ‘classical’ forms - the Third Stream experiments of Gunther Schuller and John Lewis, Stan Getz’s Focus LP, all the way back to Artie Shaw - so hearing Ayler in a chamber music context (plus accordion) has a natural appeal for me. I wish I could now insert a link so that you can check it out for yourself, but, unfortunately Kalle is currently picking his way daintily through the minefield which is copyright law. The CD he sent to me is a performance from February last year of five Ayler arrangements: ‘Ghosts’, ‘Omega’, ‘Change Has Come’, ‘Bells’ and ‘Truth Is Marching In’. It’s a live recording so the sound quality is not perfect, but I’ve extracted the following mp3 of the concluding piece, which should give you an idea of what’s going on in Finland, where, of course, Ayler made his very first recordings with the Herbert Katz Quintet.

Truth Is Marching In

Henna Laine (flute), Jaakko Mattelmäki (violin), Kalle Autio (guitar, arranger)
Toni Perttula (accordion), Sakari Kivinen (cello), Siiri Anttonen (double bass)

I also found a video of another of Kalle’s groups, this time not playing an Ayler tune:

 

Shuffling off to Buffalo - again

In the February update there was a piece about the filming of Ayler’s performance at the Second Buffalo Festival of the Arts Today at Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State University on 9th March, 1968. Although I confirmed that the concert was filmed as part of a TV programme on the Festival to be broadcast by the Public Broadcast Laboratory, I couldn’t find any more information about whether the programme was actually made and whether it was shown, so at that point I gave up. However, Pierre Crépon dug deeper and came up with the information that the programme was indeed made and was shown on the Public Broadcast Laboratory programme on 21st April, 1968 with the title, “Who’s Afraid of the Avant-Garde?” Full details of the programme are available on the website of the Paley Center for the Media, which implies that it still exists in their collection and can be seen at their screening rooms in New York or Los Angeles (so if anyone wants to check that out I’d be grateful). However, Albert Ayler’s name does not appear in the credits or the description of the programme (although Cecil Taylor did make the cut) so what we really need to know is if the discarded footage from the Buffalo Festival still exists somewhere. Personally, I doubt it.

I also found another description of the programme in a book about Andy Warhol which adds a few more details, but still no mention of Ayler:

“For example, “Who’s Afraid of the Avant-Garde?” (a 1968 episode of the PBL series on WNET) began with the premise that almost everyone was. Douglas Macagy, now at the Albright Knox Museum in Buffalo, New York, welcomed viewers to a glimpse of the Buffalo Arts Festival and the museum’s exhibition on avant-garde art. In the standard procedure of the MoMA days, various program segments filmed at the Albright Knox feature an assortment of Buffalo “yokels” (mostly women, elderly couples, and African American children) completely baffled by the avant-garde art on display, and various experts then explain what it all means. The program then segues to “acts” by poet Allen Ginsberg, architect Buckminster Fuller, Jazz musician Cecil Taylor, filmmaker Jonas Mekas (who screened two of his shorts) and a collaborative performance titled Rainforest choreographed by Merce Cunningham and scored by John Cage. Warhol provided his silver Clouds as set design for Rainforest, which also included costume design from Rauschenberg and Johns.”

***

Jazz Forum - The Magazine of the International Jazz Federation

Pierre also sent me a link to the online archive of the Polish jazz magazine, Jazz Forum. As its subtitle suggests, the emphasis of the magazine veers towards Europe, and so far I’ve not found a great deal about Ayler, but there’s plenty of other material of interest. All the back issues of the magazine from 1967 to 1989 are available in three language versions, Polish, German and English and it is a great resource for jazz scholars everywhere. Here’s the notice of Albert’s death in Issue No. 11:

jazzforumobit

Ghosts in Leeds - second set

Yair Dagan let me know that another video of last October’s Ayler event in Leeds by the artists Derek Horton and Eoin Shea, and the musicians Paul Hession (percussion) and Leon Thomas Johnson (tenor saxophone) is now available on the Vimeo site:

 

Yair also confused me a little with this link to the New Worck site which appears to be a man making mixtapes. Still, all power to the elbow of the estimable Dj Snoodaard for linking Albert Ayler’s ‘Angels’ with a track by the Third Ear Band - ahh, hippy days...

***

And finally ...

Many thanks to Richard Leigh for the early ESP version of Spiritual Unity which has now been added to the covers page where it sits alongside my far inferior UK Fontana version.

***

May 1 2012

Albert Ayler - Berlin, 1966

I should start with this, although I don’t know how long it will be available - the clip from Kasper Collin’s film, My Name Is Albert Ayler, of the Ayler Quintet performing at the Berlin Jazz Festival on November 3rd 1966.

If nothing appears above then try this link.
Thanks to Yair Dagan for the links and also for letting me know about another Ayler tribute track on the album, Song/Dance (Blues) by The Convergence Quartet. It’s a version of Leroy Jenkins’ ‘Albert Ayler (his life was too short)’ and there’s a review of the album and a video clip of the band at allaboutjazz.com.

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Albert joins the army

Richard Koloda has sent me a number of newspaper cuttings relating to Ayler from various sources. I haven’t had time to go through them all yet, but this one caught my eye. It’s from page three of the Cleveland Press of 23rd September, 1958.

colors
convergence

Not Ayler, but still interesting

A couple of articles with no Ayler content, but which may be of interest. Richard Leigh let me know about this substantial article about Cecil Taylor from 2001, which he found via the Mosaic Records site (which is also worth checking out for the links to articles about Peter Brotzmann and Marion Brown, and videos of Eric Dolphy and, my particular favourite, Jimmie Lunceford).

And if you’ve ever wondered what happened to Giuseppi Logan (an old ESP labelmate of Ayler’s) I found this New York Times article from 6th April, which makes for pretty grim reading.

***

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