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2014
July to December

BAN203

archives

News from 2014 - July to December

July 1  2014

 

The Albert Ayler Story - ESP4072

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The Albert Ayler Story (ESP4072) is a download-only release from ESP featuring tracks from the ESP Ayler catalogue, plus interviews with Ayler, Bernard Stollman and various musicians. It has been compiled by Michael D. Anderson (who also put together the Sun Ra Eternal Myth Revealed box set) and is currently available on the ESP site for a pre- release price of $15.99 - regular price $19.99.

“Albert Ayler, one of the most controversial and polarizing musicians in the history of jazz, was accused of not being able to play his instrument, so radically did he reboot the whole idea of jazz saxophone and jazz improvisation. This set chronologically examines his career with music and artist interviews explaining what took place during historically important recording sessions and concerts. The many musical recordings here include, among other sources, at least one track from each of Ayler's ESP-Disk' albums.”

The track listing is as follows:

1. Albert Ayler: Early Childhood/The Army 1960, Part 1

2. “Tenderly” - U.S. Army 76th Adjutant General's Band

3. Albert Ayler: The Army 1960, Part 2/Sweden 1962, Part 1

4. “Summertime” - Herbert Katz Quintet

5. Albert Ayler: Sweden, Part 2

6. Sunny Murray: Europe 1962/Cecil Taylor, Part 1

7. “Four”: Albert Ayler solo section - Cecil Taylor Quintet

8. Sunny Murray: Cecil Taylor, Part 2

9. Albert Ayler: Playing with the Candy Greene Band 1962

10. Bernard Stollman: The Cellar Café 6-14-64

11. “Spirits” - Albert Ayler Trio

12. Bernard Stollman: Meeting Albert Ayler/Spiritual Unity

13. “Ghosts (First Variation)” - Albert Ayler Trio

14. Bernard Stollman: Spiritual Unity, Part 2

15. Albert Ayler: After the Spiritual Unity recording

16. Milford Graves: The New Black Music

17. Milford Graves: Bernard Stollman and ESP-Disk’

18. Bernard Stollman: Michael Snow/Film: Walking Woman

19. “I.T.T.” - Albert Ayler Sextet

20. Sunny Murray: Explains the film Walking Woman

21. Don Cherry: Meeting Albert Ayler

22. Albert Ayler: Ollie Vestegard/Denmark 9-30-64

23. “Vibrations” - Albert Ayler Quartet

24. Albert Ayler: John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy

25. “Ghosts” - Albert Ayler Quartet

26. Don Cherry: Seeing Albert Ayler in 1964

27. Bernard Stollman: Meeting Don Cherry and Albert Ayler

28. Albert Ayler: Sympathy for Sunny Murray

29. Milford Graves: Hanging out with Albert

30. Albert Ayler: Adding His Brother Donald to the Group

31. Bernard Stollman: The Town Hall Concert/Bells, Part 1

32. “Bells” (excerpt) - Albert Ayler Quintet

33. Bernard Stollman: Bells, Part 2

34. Milford Graves: The Town Hall Concert

35. Bernard Stollman: Spirits Rejoice, Part 1

36. “Spirits Rejoice” - Albert Ayler Septet

37. Bernard Stollman: Spirits Rejoice, Part 2/Play a Short Tune

38. “Holy Family” - Albert Ayler Septet

39. Bernard Stollman: Spirits Rejoice, Part 3

40. Bernard Stollman: Albert Ayler Introduces Patty Waters

41. Bernard Stollman: Albert Ayler Live at Slug’s Saloon

42. “Truth Is Marching In” - Albert Ayler Quintet

43. Burton Greene: Albert Ayler Playing with Burton Greene

44. “untitled” - Burton Greene Collective

45. Burton Greene: Albert Ayler Playing with Burton Greene 2

46. Milford Graves: Albert’s Sound

47. Albert Ayler: Playing in Clubs

48. Sunny Murray: Musicians and Magic

49. Albert Ayler: Music and the Creator

50. Albert Ayler: Performing with John Coltrane/Drummers

51. “Zion Hill” - Albert Ayler Quintet plus Frank Wright

52. Andrew Cyrille: Being Possessed by the Music

53. Albert Ayler: Michel Sampson and Bill Folwell

54. Burton Greene: Ayler Live at Newport/George Wein

55. “Our Prayer” - Albert Ayler Quintet

56. Albert Ayler: The Passing of John Coltrane

57. “Love Cry/Truth Is Marching In/Our Prayer” - Albert Ayler

58. Albert Ayler: Signing with Impulse Records

59. Bernard Stollman: The Fondation Maeght Concert, Part 1

60. “Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe” - Albert Ayler

61. Bernard Stollman: The Fondation Maeght Concert, Part 2

62. Albert Ayler: The Fondation Maeght Concert

63. Bernard Stollman: The Fondation Maeght Concert, Part 3

64. Sunny Murray: Condolences for Albert Ayler

65. Milford Graves: What He Misses About Albert Ayler

66. Don Cherry: Condolences for Albert Ayler

67. “Vibrations” AKA [tune Q]2- Albert Ayler Quartet

68. “End Theme: Spirits” - Albert Ayler Quartet

 

I have to admit to a couple of reservations about The Albert Ayler Story, at least going on the information so far provided.  The idea of telling Ayler’s life story through interviews and music is a good one, and I can’t really comment further without hearing it for myself. I also don’t want to knock it - any new release of Ayler in whatever format should be applauded for keeping his music 'out there' - but I find myself wondering at whom this is aimed. Any Ayler fan will already have all of the music tracks, particularly if they have the Holy Ghost box set - which, I suspect also accounts for the interviews featuring Ayler. And for Ayler neophytes, would they want to extend their interest by listening to all these interviews with a smattering of random tracks (and an ‘excerpt’ from Bells)? The only conceivable audience is that in between, perhaps those who purchased Albert Ayler: The Impulse Story and want another story to round out the whole picture.

My other reservation is the fact that, for ESP to tell the full story of Ayler, so much has had to be taken from Holy Ghost. Although ESP now own the rights, they had nothing to do with its conception or production and it is theirs only by dint of lawyers. Perhaps it is wrong to raise that as an objection, but it does seem that ESP have learned nothing from their acquisition. If they had, then surely they would have gone out of their way to add something new to this compilation, something to make the Ayler fans want to download it. We know ESP don't have a vault stuffed with unreleased Ayler tracks, and I don’t want to keep banging on about the videos. However, it would have been nice if ESP had taken this opportunity to get hold of the Berlin or Bordeaux footage (neither of which would involve legal problems) and added it to The Albert Ayler Story.

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The Fifth Track

Speaking of which, ESP do have one 'unreleased' track, courtesy of Martin Davidson. It's the alternate 'Spirits' which did appear on some early editions of Spiritual Unity. There's more information about it on the Spiritual Unity page, but apparently ESP didn't have a copy of the fifth track until recently, when Martin Davidson (of the Emanem label) sent them one, and ESP told him that their next issue of Spiritual Unity will contain all five tracks from the session. I have to thank Dave Solomon for passing this information along to me.

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Tribute to New York Eye And Ear Control

Last month’s concert at Brooklyn’s Firehouse Space, sparked by the 50th anniversary of NYEAEC, has left some traces online, including photos on facebook and this video of the Veterans of Free on youtube:

 

Tony Wilson’s Flowers for Albert

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I came across another Ayler tribute band, Tony Wilson’s Flowers for Albert, which played the Vancouver International Jazz Festival on 25th June. According to this article, originally published in Coda, they’ve been going for years. The Vancouver Festival site has this mini-review:

At the Ironworks Afternoon Sessions (5pm) we heard BC legend - guitarist Tony Wilson's Flowers for Albert - a project dedicated to the late 60's avant saxophonist Albert Ayler. The band was excellent with Dylan van der Schyff (drums), André Lachance (bass) and the fine young John Paton (tenor sax). The music conjured the spirit of Ayler - relaxed, melodic lines alternating with textural abstractions - Tony evoked the power of Sonny Sharrock in some passages.”

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And finally . . .

I don’t usually bother with the Glastonbury Festival with its modern beat combos, but this year, friend Clive let me know about a performance by the Sun Ra Arkestra (still fronted by the 90 year old Marshall Allen) which is available (for the next three weeks) on the BBC iplayer.

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What’s New January to June 2014 has now been archived.

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August 1  2014

 

Spiritual Unity at 50

There’s a great article at Wondering Sound by Kevin Whitehead which begins:

The first edition’s silkscreen cover looked sharp, but by all other indications, the Albert Ayler Trio’s Spiritual Unity seemed like an offhand effort. It’s not quite half an hour long, has only three tunes (one of them played twice), and was made in a couple of hours at a cheap studio with an engineer so inattentive he recorded it in mono.”

And there’s an audio clip of Bernard Stollman talking about his first meeting with Albert Ayler (from the ESP release, The Albert Ayler Story) on youtube:

 

And still in anniversary mode, I should mention Albert’s birthday party on facebook, organised by Steve Tintweiss. Unfortunately I was away at the time but caught up later, and if you’re on facebook and a member of the group you can still put your hat on and enjoy the contributions.

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Nuits de la Fondation Maeght - 50 Years On

Well, that’s confusing, but I’m working from the French. A couple of days ago (so it’s late as well) on 28th July, there was a concert at the Fondation Maeght (which is celebrating its 50th anniversary) featuring the Nice Jazz Orchestra, directed by Pierre Bertrand. Among the pieces played was Ayler’s ‘Truth Is Marching’ (no ‘In’). More details available here. There’s a clip from French TV about the 50th anniversary of the Fondation Maeght, which all looks very pretty, but there’s still no sign of the vault where they keep the Ayler film.

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Random Quote of the Month

This should really be an ‘And finally...’ but I’m saving something even more obscure for that spot. On The Guardian’s website, in a section entitled “World Cup 2014: Guardian writers pick their highs and lows from Brazil”, there’s this quote from Scott Murray:

Personal highlight The 10 men of Greece holding on for an hour to secure a crucial goalless draw against Japan. An ugly performance that became more enjoyable over time, revealing hidden complexities, like a fine wine or avant-garde jazz LP. When Georgios Samaras slotted away a nerveless penalty against Ivory Coast to send the scarcely credulous Greeks into the second round, it felt like joyously pulling the cork on a vintage Bordeaux, or suddenly realising Albert Ayler was playing a melody line after all.”

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Heaven’s Bells (for Albert Ayler)

This is a video of Lewis Jordan performing a poem about Albert Ayler, recorded on 24th November, 2013 at the Bird & Beckett Bookstore in San Francisco.

 

And I should mention, for our Hungarian pals, there’s a series of radio programmes on youtube on the subject of ‘Classic Free Jazz 1956-1970’. Originally broadcast on Civil Radio from Budapest in 2004, the programmes were compiled by Béla Pataki, and there’s one about Albert Ayler.

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Charlie Haden (6/8/1937 - 11/7/2014)

Albert Ayler must have been one of the few Free Jazz greats Charlie Haden never recorded with, but even so, his death, earlier this month at the age of 76, deserves a mention. There’s lots of information online, obituaries in The New York Times and The Guardian, and many clips on youtube - here’s just one:

 

And finally ...

Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you search for Albert Ayler on youtube he seems to drag his album titles along with him, which brought up this - Hilversum 1964. No sign of Albert of course (otherwise this would be up the top), The Hilversum Session was recorded in November 1964 and judging by the ice creams, this was filmed earlier in the year. Still, I thought it was interesting - especially when you replace the soundtrack with some Ayler of the period.

 

September  1 2014

 

The Origin of Slugs’

There was a fascinating interview with the founder of Slugs’ Saloon, Jerry Schultz, on Radio New Zealand National, on 9th August. A brief mention of Albert Ayler, but a lot of interesting anecdotes about the other musicians who played at the club.

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Mexican Ayler

There was a tribute concert for Albert Ayler at the Zinco Jazz Club in Mexico City on 27th August with Remi Alvarez on saxes, Carlos Maldonado on bass and Milo Tamez on drums.

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The Contrasting Styles of Free Jazz Saxophonists

A couple of clips from youtube. The first - ‘Hello Albert Ayler’ by the Vadim Ostroukhov Quartet - is a bit of a slowburner but I like the insouciance of the alto player. And the old guy at the end is worth waiting for.

 

The second - ‘Ghosts’ by John Dikeman and Onno Govaert - has more Ayler content but I’m not enamoured of the bendy body stylings of Mr. Dikeman.

 

And finally ...

Here’s Albert Ayler’s entry in the aptly-named Jazz for Dummies by Dirk Sutro:

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October  1 2014

Spiritual Unity Expanded Edition

In July I mentioned that ESP intended to issue a new edition of Spiritual Unity with five tracks - the fifth track being the one which appeared on an early edition of the LP and was then replaced by 'Spirits'. Apparently ESP had lost this track until Martin Davidson of Emanem Records sent them a copy. I did keep an eye on the ESP site for more news (I think I may have missed it in September) but then I received the following picture of the back cover (the front remains the same) from Marco Grossi.

suexpandback

So, back to ESP, and the Spiritual Unity page now has the following announcement (although the track listing hasn't been updated from the original four):

‘For the Spiritual Unity 50th Anniversary Expanded Edition, we have added a bonus track: the performance briefly and accidentally substituted for “Spirits” on an early vinyl edition. It is the same tune known as “Vibrations” on the album of that title on Arista/Freedom (AKA Ghosts when issued on Debut) and as “[tune Q]2” on the Revenant box set Holy Ghost. It will be the first time both “Spirits” and “Vibrations” have been on a single ESP edition of Spiritual Unity. We have also just repressed the standard vinyl edition of Spiritual Unity (without the fifth track), but if you purchase it via espdisk.com, it comes with a free download including the bonus track.”

At the moment it does seem that ESP is the only place to buy the new CD - elsewhere it seems to be only available as a download, and, of course, with so much of the old stock still available it is a case of caveat emptor.

So, there you have it. A five track Spiritual Unity. Since it was never conceived as a concept album, I suppose there's no point in mourning the passing of the old version (one can't call it the original version since the restored track was part of the original version) and if this becomes the standard Spiritual Unity for ESP's next fifty years, then that seems right and fitting. I'm not a collector as such, I've always believed that the music is what's important and how you get hold of that, vinyl, CD or download, doesn't matter. But there is a small part of me that does mourn the passing of the old, four track, Spiritual Unity. I've had a copy of the LP for nearly fifty years, and I just wonder now whether it loses some kind of power as an artefact. Whether new converts to Ayler will acquire it and just be grateful that it has a longer running time, and won't miss the symmetry of the two versions of ‘Ghosts’ opening and closing the album. Anyway, although I should think it was done for economic rather than aesthetic reasons, I'm glad ESP have decided to continue issuing the vinyl version as it was, with just the four tracks, not as it was in the very beginning, but as it was for the majority of those fifty years.

By the way, I should say that the ‘fifth track’ has been available on this site for a few years now, but, in light of its official release, I’ve removed it.

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More About Slugs’

Following last month’s radio interview from New Zealand with Jerry Schultz, co-owner of Slugs’ Saloon, Kees Hazevoet sent me this link to an article about the club on the Bedford + Bowery site which includes contributions from Charles McPherson, bartender Bill Cherry, Jack Bruce, Cecil McBee and Larry Willis, as well as this photo of how the building looks today.

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Ayler in Salford

I came across this Ayler tribute on youtube. It’s from the E.P., ‘Taken To See The Tiger’ by KP2 and Luana’s Black Reptiles, which is available to download on the German Shepherd Records page of the Bandcamp site.

 

And sticking with youtube, I thought I’d mention that the album, ‘Ghosts by Albert Ayler’ by the Yosuke Yamashita Trio (recorded on May 23, 1977 at "Jazz in der Kammer", Deutsches Theater, Berlin) is also available on there at the moment.

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Free Jazz and Improvisation on Vinyl 1965 - 1985

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Very much a case of ‘doing what it says on the tin’ Free Jazz and Improvisation on Vinyl 1965 - 1985: A Guide to 60 Independent Labels by Johannes Rød, lists the output of the smaller record labels, ESP, Incus et al, which kept avant-garde jazz alive after the majors, like Atlantic and Impulse, lost interest. There’s an extensive review of the book by Stewart Smith on The Quietus site. It’s a bit pricey though - I’ll have to wait till it turns up in Poundland.

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And finally . . .

This:

 

November 1  2014

 

Buffalo (again)

O.k., don’t get your hopes up, but the spectre of another lost Ayler film has arisen from the grave. Kees Hazevoet let me know about this article in The New York Times about the celebrated documentary film-maker, D. A. Pennebaker and his vast archive of material relating to his films. The article mainly concentrates on the unused footage from Don’t Look Back and Monterey Pop, but Kees also pointed me at the organissimo jazz forum, where he’d found this:

There was an article in The New York Times today about D.A. Pennebaker and his film archives. When I read it, it jogged my memory of attending concerts by Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler in Buffalo in 1968.

The concerts were part of an arts festival and I remember that the concerts, along with a reading by Allen Ginsberg, were filmed.

I e-mailed Frazer Pennebaker, D.A. Pennebaker's son, who's in charge of the archives, inquiring whether the Taylor and Ayler footage still existed. I was amazed when I received a reply ten minutes later saying that he knew that Cecil Taylor and Allen Ginsberg footage was in the archives and that he would check if any Albert Ayler footage existed.

Let's hope that the Ayler footage is there. It would be a major find, as I believe that there's very little film of Albert Ayler in existence.”

A couple of years ago I did a little research on the Ayler concert at the Second Buffalo Festival of the Arts Today at Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State University on 9th March, 1968, which was filmed for a TV programme called ‘Who’s Afraid of the Avant-Garde?’ The programme was shown and still exists but the Ayler footage was not included. That’s where I left it. The programme was filmed and edited by Richard Leacock and D. A. Pennebaker, so I guess there is a possibility that the unused Ayler footage might still be lurking somewhere in the Pennebaker archive. Let’s hope so.

[By the way, the organissimo page also had a working link to Kasper Collin’s fim, My Name Is Albert Ayler.}

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Spiritual Unity - Fifth Track Timings

Should have mentioned this last month but I misread the note on Martin Davidson’s site about ESP’s ‘Expanded Edition’ of Spiritual Unity. As we know, Martin Davidson provided ESP with the extra track, but his original version ran slightly slower and this version was issued by ESP in June 2014 to give a total running time for the CD of 37:58. Martin then corrected the error and the version released in September 2014 now has a running time of 37:19. Again I have to thank Marco Grossi (and Stephen Platt) for bringing this to my attention.

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Titans of the Tenor

I also have to thank Kees Hazevoet for sending me the pages from The John Coltrane Reference by Lewis Porter, Chris DeVito, Yasuhiro Fujioka, Wolf Schmaler and David Wild (Routledge, 2008) which relate to the ‘Titans of the Tenor’ concert at the Lincoln Center, New York on 19th February, 1966.

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And on youtube . . .

Last year, an Italian translation by Francesco Martinelli and Antonio Pellicori of Peter Niklas Wilson’s Spirits Rejoice: Albert Ayler und seine Botschaft was published as Albert Ayler. Lo spirito e la rivolta. On youtube there’s now a 56 minute video of an event at the Galleria Roma in Syracuse, Sicily, related to the book. For those not fluent in Italian (and I’m barely fluent in English), Enzo Monica introduces Francesco Martinelli and then, around the 40 minute mark, the saxophonist, Stefano Maltese takes to the stage.

One of those odd tracks on the Versions page has also appeared on youtube, ‘Ghosts’ from the World Standard album, Jump for Joy.

And finally, here are The Brooklyn Blowhards:

 

And more surprisingly - a version of ‘Island Harvest’.

 

December 1  2014

 

Youtube

Youtube’s gone a bit weird. Usually I check it at the end of the month to see what’s new and I have to work through videos of babies called Ayler, and other musicians called Ayler, to pick out a couple of relevant things. This month, apart from an annoying bloke who’s decided to call himself ‘Albert Ayler’ to upload his videos, there’s a load of Ayler tracks, including the interviews from the ESP download-only release, The Albert Ayler Story. Most of these were taken from the Holy Ghost box, of course, but there are some new ones which could be of interest. I listed the tracks on The Albert Ayler Story back in July, so you’ll find that below, but here’s the first:

 

There are also several Ayler albums on there, including the weird ‘In Concert’ release, which was actually disc 5 of the Holy Ghost box, My Name Is Albert Ayler (in the guise of the equally weird ‘Crowns Collection’), Ghosts (aka Vibrations), Live at the Fondation Maeght and some of the Impulse albums (including the Love Cry/Last Album release and New Grass). They all bear the legend: “Auto-generated by YouTube”. Which, I guess, means that they’ve all been autogenerated by youtube. But why? Still, I note the fact that these tracks are available and one does not need the eyepatch and parrot to listen to them. Of course, I do mostly preach to the converted so this will not be of any interest, however there are a couple of tracks by other artists which have been on the Versions and Tributes pages for years, which have also popped up. One is the 41 second ‘Bells for Albert Ayler’ by the Telstar Ponies, the other is Count Basie’s version of ‘Love Flower’:

 

And I also found a new version of ‘Our Prayer’ by Santana:

 

Since youtube seems to be plucking these things out of the ether, it might be worth having a look round for other artists to see what else is on there. But, back to what should be the real business of youtube, videos. There’s a solo performance of ‘Vibrations’ by Matti Luokkanen on baritone sax, and here’s the Charles Gayle Trio playing ‘Ghosts’ at a concert in Austria from March this year:

 

So, sorry to end the year on a whimper rather than a bang, with an extended advert for youtube, but that’s all I’ve come across this month. All the very best for the festive season, and if nothing else turns up in the meantime, I’ll be back in 2015.

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December  14  2014

 

A Very Ayler Christmas!

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Forgot to check whether Bernard Stepien was carrying on the Canadian Christmas tradition of a concert mixing Ayler tunes with Christmas carols, so thanks to Richard Rees Jones, who sent me this link to the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa site. Bernard will be performing in Ottawa on Sunday, 21st December, alongside David Broscoe, Jennifer Giles, Scott Warren and Linsey Wellman. For those who missed earlier posts about Bernard’s project, check out his site, and here’s a video from last year:

 

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