As mentioned last month, the new ‘expanded’, 2 disc edition of Prophecy (and Bells) has been released and full details are now available on the ESP site, including this description:
‘Albert Ayler’s trio with Gary Peacock and Sonny Murray is best known for the July 10, 1964 recording of Spiritual Unity, the album that made both Albert and ESP-Disk' famous when it was released. A decade after that, ESP-Disk' also released, as Prophecy (ESP3030), the first documentation of the group, as recorded a month earlier by Canadian poet Paul Haines at a concert at a 91st Street club. These Cellar Café recordings are augmented here beyond the five cuts on the original Prophecy by including another six tracks from the same gig. (We use the more accurate titles found in their release in the Holy Ghost box set on Revenant rather than the fanciful titles on their first issue, as Albert Smiles with Sunny on the German label In Respect. Note also that “Wizard” on CD 1 and “The Wizard” on CD 2 are different compositions.) 1965 yielded Ayler treasures as well as his style shifted. The transitional Bells was just under 20 minutes, released originally as one side of a clear vinyl LP with the other side empty of music. It was recorded at a May 1 Town Hall concert of ESP artists, displaying Ayler’s new group. Murray remained, Albert’s brother Donald joined on trumpet, and Lewis Worrell held down the bass slot. The denser sound of “Bells” shows Ayler moving towards the bigger sonic statement made on Spirits Rejoice, his September 23, 1965 Judson Hall session. By the way, “Bells” as heard here is not, in fact, a single composition; rather, it is a medley moving from “Holy Ghost” to an unnamed theme and then into “Bells” proper. Bernard was so excited by “Bells” that it was released on one side of an LP without delaying to record additional music to fill the other side. “Bells” also happens to be the recorded debut of saxophonist Charles Tyler, who would go on to record for ESP as a leader (ESP1029, Charles Tyler Ensemble, and ESP1059, Eastern Man Alone).’
I’ve now added the details to the Prophecy page of the Discography.
New Grass, Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe ... and In Greenwich Village
Well, Santa did bring me the new edition of New Grass, coupled with Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe (let joy be unconfined) and I’ve added the sleevenotes etc., to the New Grass Covers page. The booklet does contain the following advert for a new ‘remastered’ vinyl version of In Greenwich Village (arguably the best of the original Impulse LPs) which is due for release next month.
The Glory That Was 8 Track
Staying with matters discographical, Dirk Goedeking found the companion piece to the DAT cassette of the Magic Music CD, Truth Is Marching In (aka Live at Slug’s Saloon - Volume One) on German ebay. This is Black Revolt (aka Live at Slug’s Saloon - Volume Two).
And he also came across this 8 track cartridge version of the compilation LP, Reevaluations: The Impulse Years(Impulse AS-9257-2).
Bernard Stepien’s programme about Kalle Autio’s chamber music settings of Ayler, broadcast on 9th December on the Canadian radio station CKCU, is still available on the Rabble Without A Cause Playlist.
And a couple of things from youtube
Where would we be without another version of ‘Ghosts’? This one is a duo for guitar and snare drum. And here’s some Frenchmen (including Marc-Edouard Nabe) enjoying a bit of Albert Ayler, “to relax the atmosphere”:
Christmas Carols, Chamber Music and now, Sea Shanties
Just picked this up on the Ayler facebook group. Jeff Lederer’s band, the Brooklyn Blowhards, which “plays sea shanties and the music of Albert Ayler” are playing the Winter JazzFest in New York on 15th January, and an album is due for release in April. Here’s their version of ‘Bells’.
February 1 2016
Paul Bley (10/11/1932 - 3/1/2016)
The free jazz pioneer, Paul Bley, died on 3rd January at the age of 83. Of the many online obituaries, here’s the one in The New York Times, a Canadian view from the CBC site (some of the comments on the piece are a bit depressing) and two assessments from Richard Williams and John Fordham of The Guardian. There is also an interesting article by Ralph A. Miriello on The Huffington Post.
Although Paul Bley never recorded with Albert Ayler, they did perform together at New York’s Take 3 Coffee House in the early months of 1964, as part of groups fronted by Gary Peacock. Here’s the relevant bit from the ‘Sightings’ section of the Holy Ghost book:
And here are the adverts from The Village Voice:
[The Village Voice 16 January, 1964.]
[The Village Voice 13 February, 1964.]
Paul Bley also recorded one of the first ‘tributes’ to Albert Ayler, Annette Peacock’s ‘Albert’s Love Theme’, on his 1966 LP, Ramblin’.
More Sheet Music
Many thanks again to Dirk Goedeking who sent me six scans of transcriptions of Ayler’s music from Ekkehard Jost’s Free Jazz (Graz: Universal Edition, 1974) and, again, took the time and trouble to get permission from Mr. Jost for me to add them to the site. Three of the scans were originally included in the Jeff Schwartz collection, but they’ve now been replaced on the Sheet Music page. Here are the new ones:
Another download-only release has appeared on amazon with that confusing ‘Masters’ ‘cover’ attached.
This is a ‘reissue’ of the 1994 Black Lion CD, which was itself a reissue of the Osmosis LP, Swing Low Sweet Spiritual with 3 extra tracks. The last CD release was issued in Japan in 2013 and, I believe, is still available. It’s the strangest of all Ayler’s albums - a totally straight reading of traditional spirituals (and ‘Ol’ Man River’). I originally intended to just mention it here since I do find the ‘Masters’ title a tad bothersome (the only other ‘release’ in the series is My Name Is Albert Ayler, which has turned up on a number of these faux albums under a variety of daft names) as it may indicate that some remastering has been done to the tracks or some intelligence is at work to present the world with definitive versions of the Ayler oeuvre - which is definitely not the case. However, while I was looking for those Gary Peacock ads in The Village Voice, I came across a review of the original issue of Swing Low Sweet Spiritual by Bob Blumenthal in The Boston Phoenix of 11th January, 1983, and he happened to mention a similar LP by the duo of Archie Shepp and Horace Parlan. This was released in 1977 on the Danish Steeplechase label and consisted of versions for saxophone and piano of traditional spirituals and gospel tunes. It shares four tunes with Ayler’s album - ‘Goin’ Home’, ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’, ‘Deep River’ and ‘Nobody Knows the Troubles I’ve Seen’ - and the LP was entitled, Goin’ Home.
I vaguely remember hearing a track from this at the time and thinking I should buy it, but never did, so when I finally heard the Ayler Goin’ Home CD, I never made the connection. Swing Low Sweet Chariot was recorded in New York on February 24, 1964 for the Danish Debut label at the same session which produced Spirits (aka Witches and Devils). Debut released Spirits, but didn't want an LP of gospel music from the new wild man of jazz. ESP also passed and it was finally issued by George Coppens on his Osmosis label. There is some confusion about the actual date of this release. 1971 crops up on the Discogs site and various others, but I think this is a mistake. The earliest review I've come across is January 1983, so I would suggest it first appeared towards the end of 1982. Osmosis was a Dutch label and in the discography attached to Han Schulte’s extensive article on Ayler, 'De schreeuw van Albert Ayler' published in the Dutch magazine, Jazz Nu, from November 1980 to January 1981, it is listed as ‘Unissued Spiritual Session’. Now, this could all be old news to everybody, but I’ve not come across it before, so apologies for my ignorance. I just find the coincidence (and that’s probably all it is) fascinating. If you want to compare Shepp’s version of ‘Goin’ Home’ with Ayler’s, here they are:
And here’s Albert:
Another date problem
Another thing thrown up by the Village Voice search was the Michael Zwerin review of Ayler’s concert at the Village Theatre in February, 1967. Now this seemed familiar, so I thought I’d got it somewhere, but it turned out I only had a link to a transcription of it on the old Jessamine Vine blog which was now buried in the Archives. So, I’ve now added it to the Concert Reviews section. If you haven’t read it before then it’s well worth a look, particularly for the description of Mary Maria. However, it also threw up one of those niggling questions, this time regarding the actual date of the concert. Michael Zwerin says it occurred on Saturday, 25th February, whereas In Greenwich Village (which includes two tracks from the concert) gives 26th February as the date. Subsequent releases, The Village Concerts and Live In Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings, repeat the 26th. However, another review in The New York Times confirms the Saturday date and the Holy Ghost book goes with the 25th. So, I’ve changed the dates in the discography to 25th February, 1967. Sorry to go on at this length, but at some point I’m bound to get an email correcting me, so I thought it best to explain the change here.
Famous Fans of New Grass
And since her name has just been invoked, and to redress the balance of my recent snidey comments about New Grass, here’s an extract from an article on the LA Weekly site by Henry Rollins:
“So far, a small shop in Frankfurt that I have been going to for years yielded a great-condition copy of Kraftwerk’s Die Mensch-Maschine. Copenhagen’s excellent Sound Station, a mandatory stop, had an almost perfect copy of Albert Ayler’s jazz/soul/gospel/out-there New Grass album, complete with heavy, laminated stock cover. This will be my third copy. The first one, on CD, lived with me in my small apartment in NYC. One day I was at Iggy’s, and we were talking about music. He said that he loved New Grass, hadn’t heard in years and really missed it. I gave him my copy and eventually found another. Can’t wait to hear this one on LP!”
Ghosts in the dark
There’s another version of ‘Ghosts’ on youtube, this one by Louis Moholo-Moholo’s 4 Blokes, withShabaka Hutchings on tenor, from a 16th January concert in Cape Town. Very jazz noir. There’s also a version of ‘Children’ by John Tchicai from a 2011 jazz and poetry concert. And the lights stay on for Emanative’s version of ‘Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe’:
And finally . . .
This is from the Ellensburg Daily Record of 24th April, 1979:
Which led me to the archives of the Campus Crier, the student newspaper of Central Washington University, and this from the edition of 15th February, 1979:
And this from the Campus Crier of 19th April, 1979:
And then - nothing. No report, no review, no list of winners, or possibly, no news of what disaster befell the First Annual Albert Ayler Talent Fest. Does the Albert Ayler Trophy still “remain on display in Hertz Hall as a perpetuating symbol of the endless search for excellence in obscurity, and as a reminder of the annual aesthetic experience to be enjoyed in honor of Albert Ayler” and is there honey still for tea?
March 1 2016
Albert Ayler in Denmark
I have to thank Johann Haidenbauer and Pierre Crépon for initially putting me on to this. They sent me a link to the LARM.fm site which had details of Ayler's appearances on Danish radio and TV, a couple of which were new to us. Since the site was being reorganised and a more extensive site was promised, I sat on the information for a while in case the new site had more than details, but the actual broadcasts. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case, and it appears that the tapes in question no longer exist. However, for the sake of filling in some gaps in the Ayler timeline (neither of the following appear in the 'Sightings' section of the Holy Ghost book, the most complete Ayler timeline we have) the information provided by the LARM.fm site remains of interest.
The first item is what appears to be a live jazz concert from the Radiohusets koncertsal featuring various musicians including the Ayler Quartet (Ayler, Cherry, Peacock, Murray) broadcast on 11th October 1964 on 'Program 1' at 3.30 pm. These are the details:
The full listings page for the broadcast is available if you click the extract below:
Of course, the Ayler/Cherry Quartet of 1964 is already well-represented on record and CD: Ghosts, The Hilversum Session and The Copenhagen Tapes, so maybe this isn’t a great loss. However, the second item is far more interesting. It features Ayler without his regular group but playing with Per Aage Brandt’s Trio. The session was recorded on 16th December, 1964 and was broadcast in the programme, ‘NY Jazz’ on 15 March, 1965 on 'Program 2' at 10.15 pm. Here are the details:
The full listings page for the broadcast is available if you click the extract below:
Pierre managed to get in touch with Per Aage Brandt and he gave him the following information about the session:
“Thanks for writing to me about this. I mentioned the fact in a discussion in the cinematheque of Cleveland, Ohio, when My Name is Albert Ayler, the Swedish film by Casper Collin about Ayler (who was from Cleveland) was presented, in 2008, while I was working in Cleveland. So your finding is correct: I played the piano with Albert and my Danish trio, drummer Simon Koppel and bassist Steffen Andersen, in the Copenhagen studio of the Danish Radio in December 1964, and the session was broadcast in early 1965. It went very well, so I have often thought about that session. Albert was on his way to Sweden (Stockholm) so we never got the opportunity to play anymore. And the Radio (DR) apparently did not keep the tapes. I have requested them without result so far. He played beautifully and in miraculous conversational contact with the trio. I really wish I had that music now.”
As do we all. These two sessions were missed by the Holy Ghost team and they don’t seem to be circulating in the murky world of the Ayler ‘collectors’. However, I suppose there is still a vague chance that some bloke in Denmark taped the broadcasts back in the 60s and, if so, maybe he could have a look in his attic, shift all the dead bodies out of the way, and stick them on youtube - tak.
There was one other item on the LARM.fm site which caught my eye. Again, there’s little chance that it still exists but it’s intriguing nonetheless. During the European tour of 1966 the Ayler group played a concert in Stockholm on 10th November. The concert was recorded and has been released by HAT HUT records as Stockholm, Berlin 1966. I’ve always assumed this was originally a radio broadcast, but the Danish TV listings for 9th January, 1967 includes this:
Which seems to suggest a half-hour programme about the whole ‘Newport Jazz Festival in Europe 1966’ package. However, on 6th February there’s this:
Which does seem to suggest that the Ayler concert in Stockholm was filmed (or videotaped) for television. Again, little (or no) chance of its survival as such, and more research needed, but it’s interesting, as is the fact that the Danes got to watch Maverick.
There were several other items on the site which mentioned Ayler, but most were details of jazz programmes which featured his recordings. Of the two radio sessions released on The Copenhagen Tapes, the search didn’t turn up anything related to the September 3rd recording at the Club Montmartre, but here are the details of the September 10th studio session (with a note - ‘efternavn udtales’ - on how to pronounce Ayler’):
And, finally, here’s the listing for the Cecil Taylor TV broadcast on 26th September, 1963. Only the audio has survived and was included in the Holy Ghost box. The full listings page is available if you click the extract below.
And now ...
The current state of Free Jazz is examined in an article by Maxime Delcourt in the French edition of the online magazine, Slate - ‘Le free jazz est bien vivant, merci pour lui!’. And, last month, the publishers, Le Mot Et Le Reste, issued a book by the same author, Free Jazz, in which (according to the blurb) “Maxime Delcourt presents sixty portraits in the global landscape of free jazz from 1959 to the present.”
FreeJazzART 2 WebTV with Alan Silva
Still working my way through these - they’re webcasts from Alan Silva’s house in which, after a short introduction, he plays lots of jazz (sometimes concentrating on one musician) with some computer generated art as a background. There are several on youtube, but they seem to originate on the Ustream site. Mr. Silva’s introduction to the one on Sun Ra is particularly interesting. (I remember seeing Alan Silva with Sun Ra’s Arkestra in London back in 1970.) Sorry if the links are a bit vague, but if you’ve got time to delve, I think it will be worth your while.
A couple of concerts
Thought I’d mention these, although one’s already happened and the other has no real connection to Albert Ayler. First, there’s a new Ayler tribute band, this one’s Turkish and is called ‘Holy Ghost’. It comprises Volkan Terzioğlu (ts), Ruben Tenenbaum (vln), Şevket Akıncı (gtr), Murat Taner (b) and Özün Usta (d) and they played at the Nazim Hikmet Cultural Centre in Kadıköy, Istanbul on 18th February.
The other one is the ‘XIX Festival di cultura e musica jazz di Chiasso’ taking place at the Cinema Teatro di Chiasso in Switzerland from 10th to 12th March. Albert Ayler is mentioned in the pre-publicity along with Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Lee Konitz, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp, so that’s good, but my main reasons for mentioning the festival is the fact that the 87 year old Benny Golson is still performing, and I was also taken by the title of the event, ‘Maledetto Sax’, which google translates as ‘Cursed Sax’.
A couple of records
Jochen Behring told me about a recent ebay auction for a signed copy of Spiritual Unity - asking price: $1,299.99. True, the first 200 copies of Spiritual Unity were signed by Albert and can fetch that kind of price, but I don’t think this is one of them. According to the description of the item, ‘The signature is faded a little but reads “To Bill, Good luck to a Real Live Asprin! Best Wishes, Albert Ayler”.’
And Dirk Goedeking let me know about another in the ‘Masters’ series, although this one, a download-only version of New York Eye And Ear Control is by Albert Eyler (presumably to avoid a call from ESP’s lawyers).
Flowers for Albert
Dirk also sent me the sheet music for David Murray’s ‘Flowers for Albert’ which he found on the Noteheads blog (click the picture below).
He also sent a link to a 1978 version of the tune on youtube.
Dirk also mentioned the following:
‘Playing the Tintweiss/Schwartz sheets I have a feeling that the tune titled “Prophecy” is not “Prophecy” but “Angels” (from “Spirits Rejoice”). The same for “Holy Ghost” which could be a third version of “D.C.”/”Infant Happiness”. Maybe Dikko Faust can have a closer look.’
Sorry, I certainly can’t help, they’re all just dots and squiggles to me. No such problems with ‘Ghosts’ though - here’s another, rather fine, version.