I added the news about the death of Sunny Murray to the site on 9th December, but at that time there were only a few obituaries online, so I thought it best to wait until the regular update before posting some of the others. I have to thank Pierre Crépon for providing most of the following links:
It was Kees Hazevoet who first informed me of Roswell Rudd’s death, but a few weeks prior to that Pierre Crépon sent me a link to a podcast on the Burning Ambulance site, which featured what was probably one of the final interviews with Roswell Rudd, recorded in November, 2017. His memories of recording New York Eye And Ear Control occur around the 22 minute mark.
So, 2018 begins in a rather sombre mood. To lift it, here are a couple of discographical oddities from Dirk Goedeking;
1. A photo of the award to Nuits de la Fondation Maeght from the Japanese magazine, Swing Journal:
2. Photos of the cassettes accompanying the Fabbri Editori ‘Jazz’ partwork published in 1986/87 - Ayler’s Ghosts was number 82:
And finally ...
If you can forgive the vagaries of google translate you might like to read this article by Geir Rakvaag in the Norwegian Dagsavisen who seems to share my fascination with those strange download-only versions of My Name Is Albert Ayler with the multiple titles such as this:
There’s quite a tradition of Ayler appearing in comics - from Albert in a haunted house in Actuel, through Harvey Pekar, to the Astral Project manga series - and Dean Westerfield is at work on a new one. It seems to be a straightforward biography of Albert and there’s a lot of preliminary sketches and inked panels on Dean’s pages on the PicBon site. This one has the description:
The look you make when they tell you to stop playing that “goddamned bicycle horn music!”
Thanks to Dirk Goedeking for letting me know about that, and he also sent me a link to a new transcription of ‘Truth Is Marching In’ (the In Greenwich Village version) by Victor Aubert.
Die Zukunft der Schönheit
Last March Dirk let me know about a new book by German author, Friedrich Christian Delius, called Albert Ayler oder Die Zukunft der Schönheit (Albert Ayler or The Future of Beauty). I came across a recent interview with the author and it now seems that Albert has been dropped from the title. Also, when I first mentioned it on this site (and added it to the Bibliography) it was only available as an ebook. The hardback version has a new cover, and this is the publisher’s blurb (translated - with apologies - via google):
“The Future of Beauty
On 1 May 1966, a young German from the Hessian province gets into a New York jazz club, playing saxophonist Albert Ayler. Distraught, insulted, elated with the most outrageous music of the day, the young man begins to hear the whole disastrous confusion of the present from those sounds, the murder of Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the stock market noise, the black struggle, the student protests. The more he gets involved with the wild music, the closer the budding poet comes to himself, to the suppressed pain of a father conflict sparked by another jazz concert, and to the embarrassing, adolescent beginnings of his writing. Spellbound by Ayler's improvisation sounds, the young man grasps in a clairvoyant association revelation the revolutionary energy that is in alertness and anger. This music makes him feel physically, as destroying and destroying the beginning of all beauty can be and the art becomes the rescuing.
An autobiographical narrative by Friedrich Christian Delius, which evokes the spirit of departure of an entire epoch.”
This is a new CD from Shakers n’ Bakers featuring the songs of Mary Maria and Albert Ayler from the late Impulse period. It’s over ten years ago now that Henry Kaiser embarked on a similar project which resulted in the CD, ‘Healing Force’, which, despite my resistance to Mary Maria’s oeuvre, I did enjoy. The new version mixes such classics as ‘A Man Is Like A Tree’ with selections from one of Ayler’s earliest LPs, Swing Low Sweet Spiritual. The track list is as follows:
1. Message from Mother Ann 2. Everybody's Movin' 3. Oh Love of Life! 4. Deep River 5. Music is the Healing Force of the Universe 6. A Man is Like a Tree 7. Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen 8. New Generation 9. Swing Low Sweet Chariot 10. Goin' Home 11. Heart Love
More information is available on the bandcamp site, including personnel details and the ethos behind the Shakers n’ Bakers band. It’s another project of saxophonist Jeff Lederer, who was also responsible for the Ayler/Sea Shanty mash-up. I especially like the nod to the original opening track of New Grass.
Val Wilmer’s seminal book on the Free Jazz movement, As Serious As Your Life, is about to be reprinted by Serpent’s Tail.
It will be out on March 1st and to coincide there’s a documentary about Val Wilmer to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on March 4th in the Sunday Feature strand. According to a piece on the Wire site:
“Percussionist Andrew Cyrille, publisher and broadcaster Margaret Busby, writers Paul Gilroy and Richard Williams (who worked with Val at Melody Maker in 1969), and her brother, the poet Clive Wilmer, are among the contributors to BBC Radio 3’s Sunday Feature: A Portrait Of Val Wilmer, produced by Steve Urquhart. Scheduled to go out on 4 March at 6:45pm (and available via iPlayer after), the broadcast coincides with the republication of As Serious As Your Life, Val's 1977 landmark study of free jazz, featuring a new foreword by Richard Williams.
Val Wilmer has interviewed and photographed some of the most influential figures in jazz, blues and R&B. Just some of the names she has covered since the early 1960s include Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and Albert Ayler, among many others.”
The Wire also hosted an event last July at London’s Cafe Oto, featuring Val Wilmer in conversation with Tony Hetherington, which is available online. Val Wilmer talks about her meeting with Albert and Don Ayler around the 58 minute mark.
Full Mantis, the new feature-length documentary about Milford Graves, received its world premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival on 27th January. The film has been made by Jake Meginsky (who has been working on the film since 2004) and Neil Young (not that one - who joined the project in 2015) and a successful kickstarter campaign raised the funds for post-production work. More information is available on the Full Mantis website, and here’s the trailer:
And finally ...
March 1 2018
Old Dutch Magazines
Pierre Crépon sent me some Ayler articles and reviews from the Dutch magazine, Jazz Wereld. The longest item is the article by Rudy Koopmans from the issue of June/July 1969, which, in the dim and distant past, I lovingly transcribed and added to the site - so that was a waste of time. Anyway the original is now in the Articles section, along with an article by Hans Dulfer from the March/April 1971 edition. There’s also Bert Vuijsje’s review of Ghosts from November 1965 and a piece on the series of concerts at the Fondation Maeght in the summer of 1970, featuring Sun Ra and Terry Riley as well as Albert Ayler. And Ayler did make the cover of Jazz Wereld on at least three occasions, November 1965, June/July 1969, and this one from March/April 1971 - click it for the full mad-eyed effect.
Following up on last month’s mention of the new documentary film about Milford Graves, Full Mantis, Pierre Crépon caught it at the Rotterdam Film Festival and his review is on the Indepencia site.
There was a Memorial Concert for Sunny Murray at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts on Saturday, 24th February. The programme for the event is available on the Ars Nova Workshop site and more information is available on the Philadelphia Jazz Project site.
There was also a tribute concert for Sunny Murray by the reformARTorchestra at the Porgy & Bess club in Vienna, on 5th February, which is on youtube:
And both drummers are mentioned in Paul Bradshaw’s ‘Straight No Chaser’ programme, which on 14th February featured an extensive interview with Val Wilmer. Albert Ayler, of course, also gets a mention, starting around the 1:14:00 mark. Thanks again to Pierre for spotting this (and the Sunny Murray Philadelphia tribute above).
And a reminder that BBC Radio 3 is broadcasting ‘Sunday Feature: A Portrait of Val Wilmer’ on Sunday, 4th March, at 6:45 pm, after which it will be available for a limited time on the BBC iplayer.
Shakers n’ Bakers
This month does seem to be mainly following up on last month’s news, but, so it goes. ‘Heart Love’, the CD of Mary Maria Parks’ songs by the Jeff Lederer led Shakers n’ Bakers, is reviewed on the Something Else! site.
And, although it shares no other connection with Albert Ayler than that he provided their name, Sunwatchers have also released their second CD.
Here’s Brian Tairaku Ritchie playing Ayler tunes on the shakukachi
‘Our Prayer’ and ‘Universal Indians’
‘Change Has Come’
And finally ...
I haven’t done this for a while, but I came across another slew of download-only versions of My Name Is Albert Ayler, although some add a bit of variety by combining it with The First Recordings and a few go that extra mile and add Witches and Devils. I realise this is a personal obsession and of little interest to others (apart from that guy in Norway), so I won’t add all the new ones here (just point you in this direction), merely the ones which took my particular fancy.
However, my favourites are Genteleman Tunes and Pleasant Tasting Christmas Dinner.
Although, if you are on the lookout for Pleasant Tasting Christmas Dinner (and it is one of the variations with all three albums, so, quite a bargain), you have to drop the ‘l’, since, apart from on the picture, it does seem to be listed everywhere as Peasant Tasting Christmas Dinner. In fact, if you pop it into google you find it’s a remarkably popular album title with a whole variety of artistes., not just that fine genteleman, Albert Ayler.
April 1 2018
The BBC programme about Val Wilmer is available online at the moment, or can be downloaded as a podcast. There’s also a page of photographs to accompany the programme. There’s also a review of Val Wilmer’s As Serious As Your Life on the Village Voice site.
Last month I mentioned Pierre Crépon’s review of the Milford Graves film, Full Mantis at the Rotterdam Film Festival. Milford Graves also performed at the Festival and that performance is now available on youtube:
Pierre Crépon sent me a link to Dave Burrell’s piece about Sunny Murray on the JazzTimes site. Also last month I mentioned the Memorial Concert for Sunny Murray at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts on Saturday, 24th February. This is now also available on youtube. The programme for the event is still available on the Ars Nova Workshop site, and here’s the first part:
Dirk Goedeking spotted these two new versions of old favourites. First, a new CD from the German label, Go! Bop! combining both volumes of The First Recordings.
And, another lurch back in time for a new cassette version of New York Eye And Ear Control on the Personal Affair label.
Dirk also sent me this link to a review of Spiritual Unity with a good quote from Gustav Mahler: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
Inside Out In The Open
Alan Roth’s 2001 documentary about Free Jazz, Inside Out In The Open, is now available on the Dailymotion site. The hour-long film features interviews with Marion Brown, Roswell Rudd, John Tchicai, Alan Silva, Burton Greene, Joseph Jarman, Baikida Carroll, William Parker, Daniel Carter, Matthew Shipp and Susie Ibarra. No footage of Ayler of course, but the featured artists are Denis Charles / Glenn Spearman / Wilber Morris / Joseph Jarman / Peter Brötzmann / John Tchicai / Sun Ra and his Arkestra / In Order To Survive (William Parker / Cooper-Moore / Rob Brown / Susie Ibarra) / Other Dimensions In Music (Roy Campbell / Daniel Carter / Rashid Bakr / William Parker / with Matt Shipp) / Baikida Carroll / Reggie Workman and more.
April 8 2018
Cecil Taylor (25/3/1929 - 5/4/2018)
Another legend of Free Jazz, Cecil Taylor, passed away on Thursday at his Brooklyn home. He was 89 years old.
Although Albert Ayler does not appear on any Cecil Taylor albums, he was a member of his group in the early years of his career. In the Kasper Collin documentary, My Name Is Albert Ayler, Sunny Murray recalls their first meeting at Stockholm’s Golden Circle in 1962. Ayler joined the Taylor group for a while, even appearing on Danish TV (the video is lost, but the audio remains). When Ayler returned to America he continued to play with Taylor sporadically until early in 1964.
Roy Morris let me know that his Homeboy Music site is back up and running. It features the music of Joe Rigby, Arthur Doyle, Earl Cross and Yosef Mumin Phillips and as Roy explains on the site:
“Homeboy Music has laid dormant for many years.
It was originally created to present the music of Norman Howard, lost genius of the trumpet.
In the twenty-first century it would be better if there was no need for such an amateurish non-profit (in fact loss) making enterprise. However, how else to praise and promote the music of some of the lesser known but hugely gifted jazz artists?
Exponents of the new music, free jazz, avant-garde, the new thing, ecstatic music, call it what you will, but still music that follows on naturally from Charlie Parker, Hank Mobley, Booker Ervin and the whole of the jazz tradition.
So welcome to the new dawn of Homeboy Music and the new and old sounds of some astonishing musicians.”
... fools, dance! (well it does look like Donald Trump’s going to get the Nobel Peace Prize, so what else can we do?) Well, we could all make our way to Cleveland (again) and check out ‘DanceWorks 2018’ at the Cleveland Public Theatre, which features in its final week (14-16 June), Double-Edge Dance:
Double-Edge Dance, co-founded by choreographer Kora Radella and composer Ross Feller, celebrates 25 years with two new duets. Love Cry, with textile art by Rebecca Cross, taps into the transformative powers of Cleveland-born Albert Ayler's music, and Reckoning navigates close encounters with an intense drama between Radella and theatre artist Chris Seibert.”
Full details of the Dance Festival are available here and Double-Edge Dance have videos of some of their other works on vimeo. Hopefully the Ayler piece will be added there at some point. And in conclusion I should point out that I have managed to do a piece about a new Ayler ballet without mentioning ‘The Elizabethan Phrasing of the Late Albert Ayler’.
There’s a nice article about the Japanese jazz journalist Kiyoshi Koyama in the Japan Times. Among Mr. Koyama’s many interviews with the giants of jazz, the one which most concerns us here is the one conducted at the Fondation Maeght with Albert Ayler, which was subsequently included in the Holy Ghost box and is available on youtube.
J. Michael Harrison. If I could listen to one jazz tune right now, I’d choose Albert Ayler’s “Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe.” I feel his horn connect with the soul, as it couples with the vocal call of Mary Maria Parks in “Let It Come In,” “The Music of the Universe,” and “The Music of Love”! The song provides a level of catharsis every time I hear it. Having Philadelphia’s Muhammad Ali included on drums completes the deal for me.
Ghosts 2 (for double bass)
Dirk Goedeking writes:
“Get ready for summer: here's a collection of Albert Ayler t-shirts. I’m aware that Albert dressed very conciously. Always Suits and at the end of his life some kind of Hippie outfit. But I know no photo of him in a t-shirt. Nevertheless. . .”