Top 30 Most Expensive Items Sold on Discogs in October 2021
Richard Koloda (whose book about the Ayler brothers should be out this autumn - that phrase will be repeated throughout the year) sent me this link to the Discogs blog. Ayler’s first LP, Something Different!!!!! came in at No. 2 at $4,540. So, check the attic.
Munich and Japan
Some random items from Dirk Goedeking. First off, more about Munich. Dirk found this article about the German experimental band, Embryo which included the following statement:
“Munich was great, because there were so many jazzclubs. There was the ‘Reitschule’, then there was the ‘Domizil’, then there was the ‘Birdland’. And at the same time, there were unbelievable good musicians here, because Max Greger’s Big Band went well and he bought himself star soloists. And these again attracted others. Like e.g. Albert Ayler, who lived near Munich.”
“Which is wrong of course. Albert never lived near Munich. But it is another clue, connecting Albert with Munich. If you want to get a glimpse of Max Greger’s Band, here's a premiere from 1965 known to all German TV viewers opening ‘Das aktuelle Sportstudio’ every Saturday till today.”
Dirk also sent a couple of Japanese items, which will remain a mystery. The second one I presume is the magazine article which resulted from Kiyoshi Koyama’s interview with Albert Ayler at the Fondation Maeght (I wonder if that was ever translated and published elsewhere?)
Another No. 2
‘Doctor’s Orders: Circuit des Yeux (Haley Fohr) prescribes nine seminal albums from her life’ is another list on the Far Out Magazine site, where Albert Ayler comes in at Number Two (after the Bee Gees?!?). This time it’s the Holy Ghost box set which is described by thus:
It wouldn’t take long for Fohr to gravitate beyond the more conventional sounds of pop music and find refuge in the avant-garde. Saxophonist Albert Ayler proved to be a conduit for which Fohr was able to find her own unique voice, which she discovered at a time when she needed it most.
“This record came to me during a dark period of my teenage years. I was feeling utterly trapped, lost, worthless, and confused,” Fohr explained. “I received this album box set for Christmas and was completely enamoured by the kinetic entropy to Ayler’s playing. Everything he played felt like a forward motion, a real progress. At the time I had never heard anything like it.
The box set came with so many nice things and was tailored in a way that seemed unimaginable to me at the time. The care and love put into the trappings of this box set affected me as much as the music. It said to me that you can create microworlds and take care of them. I don’t know why, but around this time, age 17, I started to sing along with Holy Ghost almost every time I listened to it. It is the only album I ever tried to ‘play along with’, and I attribute it as the gateway into my extended-vocal technique.”
JAZZ CHRONICLES - a docuseries on the history of American Jazz Music. The series begins with a look into one of the most controversial periods in jazz - the Avant Garde. This series will begin with the contributions of jazz drummer Sunny Murray followed by episodes on Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp, and Eric Dolphy. Stay tuned for the release of more episodes.
I wasn’t sure whether to just hide this in the youtube roundup that follows, since I wasn’t that enamoured of it. I was put off by the usual linkage of the Avant Garde movement to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s. I’m not denying that link, it’s just that I feel that the history of Free Jazz is a lot more complicated than that. Anyway, make your own minds up. I will be looking out for the Ayler episode.
Still in educational vein, especially so if you know Italian, Francesco Martinelli and the saxophonist, Dimitri Grechi Espinoza discuss ‘Albert Ayler: the Spirit and the Revolt’. Here’s the first part of the translated description:
“No music has swung so abruptly between extremes as his. Folk song, march or acoustic apocalypse: everything was possible in Albert Ayler’s musical universe. He had little time to announce his message of a new spiritual music: in 1970, at the age of 34, Albert Ayler died under mysterious circumstances. Francesco Martinelli talks about it together with saxophonist Dimitri Grechi Espinoza, who has been involved for years in musical projects that investigate the relationship between music and spirituality.”
As I said, it is in Italian, but there are subtitles, which you can get translated (after a fashion).
[For those who’ve just walked in: I did a quick update of this page on 18th January in order to highlight the new release of the April 1966 sessions at La Cave. Since I intended at that point to add some more background information in the regular monthly update, I thought it easier to just alter the date above and tinker a bit with the text below.]
La Cave Live Cleveland 1966 Revisited
This is the release by Hat Hut Records of the two concerts recorded at La Cave in Cleveland on 16th and 17th of April, 1966, and originally included in the Holy Ghost box set in October 2004. I don’t want to rehash the troubled history of Revenant’s box, suffice to say lawyers got involved and the Holy Ghost ended up in limbo. There were a few standout tracks on the CDs in the box (the Don Ayler Sextet from January 1969 leaps out at me) but the centrepiece was the material from La Cave which took up CDs 3 and 4. It was notable because it caught the Ayler band in transition. Charles Tyler left, and Michel Samson (at that point a classical violinist, who’d only recently dipped his bow into the jazz avant-garde through Ornette Coleman) joined, and the April 16th concert was his debut. And Ayler’s music changed again.
What Dean Blackwood and Ben Young achieved with the Holy Ghost box set was remarkable. But what happened after was, well... bloody annoying to say the least. What Werner X. Uehlinger at Hat Hut has managed to do is to rescue the music of those two April nights in Cleveland from oblivion and put it on the market once again. That would be enough for high praise indeed, but what makes it better is that the tracks have been remastered and the sound quality is much clearer (even to me who only has one working (and gradually fading) ear). Considering what the sound engineers of Revenant and now Hat Hut had to deal with, the results are quite amazing. There’s this note on the sleeve of the new release:
“The concerts were recorded under difficult technical circumstances: 1 microphone and used tapes on April 16, 1966. Michael Brändli’s remarkable mastering made the release of these outstanding performances within the Revisited series possible.”
Maybe it’s not Rudy Van Gelder at Englewood Cliffs, but when I first heard the Hat Hut version, after reminding myself of the Holy Ghost CD, what sprung into my mind (and it shouldn’t have done, since it was never meant to be taken in so literal a sense) was a phrase from the sleevenotes of the Coltrane album, Meditations - ‘we have to keep on cleaning the mirror’.
One thing you’ll notice is the track lists have changed. Although the track names have not been altered (and with Ayler, tune titles are a rather fluid area), Peter Bergman’s two brief introductions have been omitted, and the sequence of the sets has been changed. Rather than following the chronological order (as Holy Ghost did) the first CD has the first set from 17th April, followed by three tracks from the second set, which is concluded on the second CD, before the 16th April concert.
The book which is included with the Holy Ghost box contained the following pages about the La Cave sessions - including a breakdown of the Frank Wright contributions to the second set of the April 17th concert.
The tracks listed above correspond to CD 1: tracks 4-5, CD2: tracks 2-3, on the new Hat Hut release. And there are more breakdowns of the La Cave sessions courtesy of Sean Wilkie in the Music section of this site.
As mentioned above, the La Cave sessions saw another shift in Ayler’s music due to a change in personnel. There has been some doubt cast on Charles Tyler’s reasons for quitting the band, but the racist reason given above was confirmed, and elaborated upon, in the interview with Mutawaf Shaheed, conducted by Pierre Crépon and Richard Koloda for The Wire in March 2019:
Crépon: How did your gigs with Albert come about?
I had this one particular way to play, sometimes we’d practise with Albert, it was like a flamenco thing. So one day he said, ‘Get Clyde, because I want to play this gig, and I want him to play that Spanish background.’ And we started playing together, we played at La Cave [in April 1966], right up around the corner, it used to be, and then at the WHK Auditorium [in February 1967].
Koloda: I showed Pierre the block where La Cave was yesterday. You know, supposedly, the entire La Cave gig was taped. The owner did it surreptitiously, anyone who played there was recorded. A friend of mine had access to the archive, but the tapes are totally disorganised. I don’ t know if he would have done the jazz thing, because that was the only jazz concert that was done at La Cave.
Crépon: The rest of the music was more ...
Folk. There were a lot of clubs on Euclid [Avenue] at the time.
Crépon: So how come Albert ended up playing there, since it wasn’t a jazz place?
I mean, they just tried to keep music in the club. Because in this town, he was a pariah. Nobody liked him. Usually, when you want to make it some place, you go, make it, and then come back. They were trying to tell me that Charles Tyler said that he met Albert walking down the street. He knew him through Donnie. We all played together.
Koloda: Tyler told Val Wilmer he was Ayler’s cousin, which is not true.
No, that’s not true. And then, the same thing, the reason he didn’t play the gig at La Cave was because of Michel Samson being there. He told another story, but he told me directly, ‘I don’t want to play with this white dude, man.’ He was a Black Muslim. That was his religion. He followed Elijah Muhammad, him and his whole family.
Crépon: Was it a big thing, the Nation of Islam, at the time in Cleveland?
At the time, yeah, it was the only form of... That’s not Islam, that’s understood? But he was a follower, and so was Norman Howard, they were both followers of Elijah Muhammad. But Charles was definitely not a true practicer of, you know, not drinking and smoking, because we did all of that.
Koloda: You also told me how Norman Howard wrote “Witches & Devils”€ť and what the real meaning of that was.
That was from the Nation of Islam, that was about white people. [In Nation of Islam mythology, evil scientist Yakub created white ‘devils’ through genetic experiments around 6000 years ago.] That’s what it was about. And what happened is, Albert, according to Charles, took it. And he did whatever he did with it [the composition was credited to Ayler on his Spirits LP]. Charles was adamant about it. But I know it was, because I was there when he composed it, we played it at Charles’s house, when Norman came over there.
Michel Samson doesn’t add any more to that aspect of his joining the group. In an interview in Jazzwereld (11, March 1967) (available on this site, translated by Kees Hazevoet) he only says the following about his first meeting with Albert Ayler:
“Shortly before the concert in Amsterdam, Michel Samson met with Ornette Coleman in Paris. “I was interested in contemporary music, hence also in contemporary jazz, and I knew that Ornette Coleman was interested in the violin. Therefore we were interested in each other. He invited me to join him in Amsterdam. After that concert I went back to America; I wasn’t at all looking for a career in jazz or anything like it. In April 1966 I was in Cleveland for a concert with the Cleveland Orchestra and Albert Ayler was playing in a club at the time. I called him and went to a rehearsal and I’ve been playing with him ever since. We don’t work regularly and my concert career can continue as planned. During the upcoming winter season I have engagements in America again and I’ve also become a professor, violinist in residence they call it, at the Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.”
He expanded on this in a later interview in Jazz Bulletin (June 2012) (also available on this site, translated by Kees Hazevoet):
‘The writer, Peter Bergman, who I had met through the Living Theatre in New York, called me at the Windermere at 92nd Street where I was living. His father was about to open a men’s fashion shop in Cleveland, Ohio. Peter thought it to be a good idea for me to play some at the opening. I could use the money and at the same time I could choose a new wardrobe at that shop. ‘That’s why I was in Cleveland on Saturday April 16, 1966 where, as I had read in the newspaper, Albert Ayler’s quartet would perform at the La Cave jazz club. During the afternoon I went there and found Albert rehearsing with local musicians and, of course, his brother Donald on trumpet. I introduced myself and said that I had played with Ornette Coleman in Amsterdam. “Do you have your violin with you?”, Albert asked. From that moment on we hit it right away. That night I played in his band and the following night again, at the same club. Obviously, I was wearing my new suit that I had been allowed to choose at the fashion shop the other day’. ‘After the concert Albert said: “We’ll play at Slugs in New York on May 1st, will you be there with us?”. Of course I was! I haven’t kept a count, but I think we performed together some 30 to 50 times in total’. (In the liner notes of the Impulse album Albert Ayler in Greenwich Village, Nat Hentoff quoted Albert Ayler: “From the beginning, we hit it off musically. Michel, too, is a man who spent a long time searching for peace’.)
Finally, here’s a photo of Albert Ayler at La Cave (with Jon Goldman’s recording mic at left).
Thanks must go to Gordon Lobban of Scotland, whose sterling efforts have resulted in the publication of an English translation of Peter Niklas Wilson’s Spirits Rejoice! Albert Ayler and his message. Originally published in Germany in 1996 by Wolke Verlag, Wilson’s is the only full-length book devoted to Albert Ayler. That, itself, is something to bemoan, but what is worse is the fact that we’ve had to wait another 26 years for an English translation. Wolke Verlag’s site contains the following description of the new edition:
‘Peter Niklas Wilson
Albert Ayler and his message
No music swung as erratically between extremes as his: folk song, march or acoustic apocalypse – anything was possible in the cosmos of Albert Ayler’s soundscapes. With his furious instrumental glossolalia and his pathos-laden ballads, the musician from Cleveland, Ohio quickly became the most radical of the Sixties free jazz expressionists. In his hands the saxophone became a different instrument and even John Coltrane’s late work was unmistakably shaped by the influence of his younger colleague. He had little time to proclaim his message of a new spiritual music: in 1970, at just 34 years of age, Albert Ayler died in mysterious circumstances.
Peter Niklas Wilson spent six months in the USA following in Albert Ayler’s footsteps. Through conversations with numerous contemporary witnesses (including Ayler’s father and brother, as well as drummers Sunny Murray and Milford Graves, violinist Michael Samson, multi-instrumentalist Howard Johnson, bassists Gary Peacock and Steve Tintweiss) and analysis of both Ayler’s published and unpublished recordings, he reconstructs the biography and erratic musical path of this prophet of the „new thing“.
176 pp., photos, pb., € 24.–, 978-3-95593-109-4’
And there’s also a pdf (available below) of the first few pages of the book including the Contents, a poem by Paul Haines, Peter Niklas Wilson’s original Preface (he died in 2003) and Gordon Lobban’s Preface to the English edition.
I have to thank Joshua Moore for sending me some scans of Ayler-related articles. A word of explanation, back in the early days of this site I was using one of those free webspace companies (Supanet - which I only remember since it says so on the home page) so space was at a premium and I couldn’t afford to upload pdfs or jpgs, which explains why there’s a lot of text on this site. I’ve placed the pdfs on the relevant pages in the Archives but I’ve also added links here:
I came across this on the Ayler facebook group, uploaded by poet, Graham Hartill with the following explanation:
Hi everyone, for New Year's Day please find enclosed a sequence of poems in appreciation of the music and being of Albert Ayler. I hope you find something of merit in this tribute. Onward to 2022 in a spirit of mutual creativity and human understanding, all the way from Wales across our little planet!
And Dirk found this ‘picture showing Roy Campbell jr. with "A Tribute to Albert Ayler" (Joe McPhee, Roy Campbell jr., William Parker & Warren Smith) one day after the election of Barack Obama for President of the US in Club W71, Weikersheim. He is reading the poem "Music is the healing power of the Universe" by Albert Ayler’.
Thought I’d mention this, even though I’ve done it before, but now it’s in colour. I quite like these colourized versions of old jazz performances - there’s a nice one of the Charles Mingus band with Eric Dolphy - but here’s Stan Getz at the London School of Economics on 14th November, 1966 - that’s the day before the Albert Ayler band performed on the same stage. The State Broadcaster only allowed us to see the Stan Getz concert.
No ‘Ghosts’ this month, but here’s El Mantis recorded in Houston last November, kicking off the gig with ‘Our Prayer’ and ‘Change Has Come’:
March 1 2022
The Complete Fondation Maeght Concerts
The complete radio recordings of Albert Ayler’s two Fondation Maeght concerts, will finally be released by Elemental Music this April as part of Record Store Day. Here’s the information from their website:
THE FIRST-EVER RELEASE OF THE COMPLETE FONDATION MAEGHT CONCERTS FROM 1970!
April 23 Vinyl Release will be followed by a Four-CD Package on April 30
The release is an important jazz event: While Ayler’s freewheeling performances at the Fondation Maeght on July 25 and 27, 1970, were excerpted on the albums Nuits de la Fondation Maeght (Shandar Records) and Live on the Riviera (ESP-Disc), presented in inferior sound, they have never been released in their entirety until now.
This is an official release presented as a five-LP Box-Set Record Store Day exclusive by Elemental Music Records in partnership with the Albert Ayler Estate & INA France. Deluxe limited-edition of 180g hand-numbered 5 LP-set mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, directly from the original ORTF (Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française) stereo tape reels, including over 2 hours of previously unreleased music.
Includes a 16-page insert for the 5-LP set and a massive 100-page booklet for the 4-CD edition with previously unpublished photos from the actual concerts; essays by jazz historian/radio host Ben Young, co-producers Zev Feldman and Jeffrey Lederer, and Pascal Rozat from Ina; plus words by Sonny Rollins, Archie Shepp, David Murray, Carlos Santana, Joe Lovano, Carla Bley, John Zorn, Bill Laswell, Reggie Workman, James Brandon Lewis, Patty Waters, Carla Bley, Annette Peacock, Marc Ribot, Thurston Moore and Zoh Amba.
A1. MUSIC IS THE HEALING FORCE OF THE UNIVERSE (7:37) A2. BIRTH OF MIRTH (10:11) A3. MASONIC INBORN (6:39)
B1. REVELATIONS 1 (5:35) B2. OH! LOVE OF LIFE (3:37) B3. ISLAND HARVEST (4:47) B4. HEART LOVE (5:13) B5. GHOSTS – PART 1 (6:39)
C1. GHOSTS – PART 2 (3:55) C2. LOVE CRY (7:18) C3. DESERT BLOOD (12:45)
1. Truth Is Marching In 8:09 2. Zion Hill, aka Universal Message 8:33 3. Again Comes the Rising of the Sun 4:23 4. Holy Family 11:29 5. Revelations 5 20:42 6. In Heart Only 5:12 7. Revelations 6 6:53 8. A Man Is Like a Tree 6:28
CD 4 – (Total time – 66:24)
1. Holy Holy 19:27 2. Spirits Rejoice 7:13 3. Spirits 15:00 4. Thank God for Women 5:21 5. Spiritual Reunion 7:43 6. Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe 9:58 7. Mary Maria vocal announcement/Ayler curtain call 1:42
Albert Ayler – tenor and soprano saxophone, vocals Mary Parks – soprano saxophone, vocals Call Cobbs – Piano (July 27 only) Steve Tintweiss – Bass Allen Blairman – Drums
Produced for release by Zev Feldman Executive Producers: Jordi Soley and Carlos Agustín Calembert Associate Producer: Zak Shelby-Szyszko Original recordings produced by Daniel Caux Original recording engineer: Claude Jauvert LP mastering by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio Mixing and Sound Restoration by Sheldon Zaharko Front and back cover photos by Jean-Pierre Leloir INA Digitization in High Resolution, restoration and mastering: Ian Debeerst INA Documentation: Marie Jaros INA coordination: Christiane Lemire
Recorded at the Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul de Vence, France on July 25 & 27, 1970.”
I think a general “WOW!” is in order. There are caveats of course. The second concert is substantially stronger than the first and contains more new ‘tunes’. And the previous releases of some of this material - Nuits de la Fondation Maeght on the Shandar label, and Live On The Riviera, rescued from the ignominy of being a freebie on an Italian jazz magazine and reissued in 2005 by ESP - probably contain the best of the two nights (Riviera from the 25th July and Nuits from the 27th). But there is still the palpable excitement of hearing these concerts afresh and complete after 52 years. There have been other failed attempts to free this music and one recent near-miss when Hat Hut were advertising their edition and had to withdraw in favour of Elemental Music. All we have to do now is wait.
If you possess the pockets of Croesus, then maybe you’d like to check out the other titles on offer for Record Store Day.
Back to La Cave
Following on from last month’s feature on the new Hat Hut release of La Cave Live Cleveland 1966 Revisited Richard Koloda kindly sent me the chapter of his forthcoming book about the Ayler brothers (due out this autumn) which mentioned the La Cave sessions. Apparently Ayler only secured the three night engagement because Tom Paxton had had to cancel his appearance:
Oh, that is so intriguing - “A twenty-five minutes excerpt of the Friday set survives.” That could clear up some of the conflicting accounts of what happened that weekend, particularly the matter of when Charles Tyler left and when Michael Samson joined the band.
There’s a review by Chris May of the new La Cave double CD set at All About Jazz and Tony Dudley-Evans has a piece on it in his blog. More importantly the radiofrance website has nicked my review from last month - ‘La gloire enfin!’.
2 Guitarists and Don
Dirk Goedeking sent me a couple of links to guitarists. Fahrettin Can Mekikoğlu from Turkey playing Donald Ayler’s ‘Our Prayer’ on YOK's soundcloud site. And this album by the French guitarist, Raymond Boni, Memoire De L'Oubli - Images For Donald Ayler.
There’s a track on youtube and here’s the less ghostly original of the cover art:
Leaving guitars behind but moving up to a duet and staying with youtube, here’s this month’s ‘Ghosts’ from a new release of a 1986 session by Akira Sakata and Takeo Moriyama entitled Mitochondria.
Is there any other kind? Not this year, but here’s a couple of things I missed. Dirk mentioned this ‘seminar’ - "Angeli e demoni. Il tragico volo di Albert Ayler. Lezioni di Jazz 2022" (“Angels and Demons. The Tragic Flight of Albert Ayler”) held in Rome’s Auditorium Parco della Musica on Sunday, 13th February. And I came across this mention of a tribute to the drummer, Beaver Harris, on the Pittsburgh City Paper site from 17th February. Reading the item again, I realised it was a virtual event (the clue was the word ‘VIRTUAL’) and it is still available on youtube.
Also on youtube is an interview with Steve Holtje, the manager of ESP-DISK, on the history of the label.
Down Beat Interview
Last month I added a number of articles to the site from various magazines - some were new and some were already here as transcripts. Anyway, here’s another one. One of the most often quoted interviews with the Ayler brothers, conducted by Nat Hentoff and published in Down Beat on 17th November, 1966. Thanks again to Joshua Moore for sending these scans.
Interview part one, pp. 16-18.
Interview part two, p. 40.
There’s an interesting interview with the saxophonist Geoffroy Gesser on the Citizen Jazz site, which recalls the olden times when European free jazz became entangled with radical politics. I mention it here (a tad trepidatiously since the last time I dipped my toe in such controversy I got accused of playing rugby) because of the following bit (translation by google):
‘Was it important for you to talk about this working-class history within your family? Are jazz and improvised music conducive to telling stories of struggle?
My grandparents were workers; I am a musician. I'm far from an exception, but I wanted to question this thing. They fought for decent working conditions, and what are we doing? Some struggle, some don't, some think it's useless... I have the impression that we are less organized than the workers at the time. It created a questioning in me... I am currently questioning musicians, as I learned to do with La Peuge in May, around their musical practice but also social and political questions, precisely. I draw a parallel with the music of Ayler: the quintet de la Peuge in May resembles him in the instrumentation, and historically the quintet and May 68 are more or less contemporary; there was a form of struggle that has perhaps somewhat disappeared today.
Can you tell us about the orchestra of La Peuge in May?
I brought together Prune Bécheau on the violin, Aymeric Avice on the trumpet, Francesco Pastacaldi on the drums, Joel Grip on the double bass at the start because I liked these people a lot musically and humanly. I found it interesting to make a group with people who come from different spheres (from the Jean-Louis group, from the Umlaut collective). I also wanted to take inspiration from the quintet of Albert Ayler in 66 in the instrumentation but to play the music of today. We did a first session which was very inspiring. Then to integrate these voices into our music - which I was collecting at the time - we called on Simon Hénocq for electronics. What we asked of Simon was to play with his “musical” sounds and to integrate these voices so that they emerge at certain times and are intelligible. I found it interesting to put side by side musicians who have an acoustic approach to their instrument and others who are more electric, or both. This meeting made us all change our habits, encouraged us to leave spaces, to adapt and to play with a seventh member: the voices.’
And finally ...
The La Cave sessions continue to niggle. Bill Schmidt emailed with his concerns about the reasons given for Charles Tyler leaving the Ayler group - "Then why did Tyler have Joel Freedman on his subsequent first LP on ESP?" And, of course, why didn't he object to Gary Peacock at the Spirits Rejoice session? And is Michel Samson off with his recollection, which takes no account of the Friday performance. Unless Mr. Bezos invents a time machine we'll never know the full story. And even then there'd be better things to go and take a look at - the grassy knoll always beckons. Maybe it's old age but I find myself questioning everything, which is why I never bothered adding this anecdote from the Ayler facebook group to the site. But Dirk picked it up and so I thought I should cast my doubts aside:
Melvin Smith: "When I was working with Charles Tyler he told me he and Albert got tipsy and were on a rowboat with their instruments and the boat tipped over lost the instruments and almost got thrown out of the military and yes their music both had a heavy Military Marching Band Form and it was an influence on Music I wrote after moving forward."
April 1 2022
Revelations: The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings
Due for release by Elemental Music Records on Record Store Day, April 23rd, the box set of the radio recordings of both concerts at the Fondation Maeght, is here displayed in all its true majesty:
A while back, when Guy Kopelowicz sent me his photos of the Spirits Rejoice session at Judson Hall, he pointed out that there was another photographer there, in fact one of the most famous American photographers of the age, W. Eugene Smith. In fact, Guy seemed as impressed by Mr. Smith as he was by Mr. Ayler, and three of the photos include the ‘second photographer’, as in this one:
Guy did suggest I try and find Mr. Smith’s photos from the session and I found his archive (at the University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography) and emailed, but didn’t get a reply. However, I mentioned the photos to Richard Koloda, who was looking for suggestions for ‘new’ photos for his upcoming book as he didn’t want to just rehash the usual suspects, and I checked the W. Eugene Smith archive again, and now some of the photos are online. The photo below is not by W. Eugene Smith, but Richard sent it to me since the image can’t be improved enough to use in his book. It’s taken from the John Adams Journal of 7th May, 1954 and features Albert Ayler in his High School band. According to Richard, Albert is on the extreme left of the second row.
The caption below the photo reads ‘THE BAND, under the direction of Amos G. Wesler, plays “Me and Juliet” during the second half of the program.’ And although Albert is not mentioned in the review of the concert, he does get a name-check later in the Journal:
John Coltrane Interviews
Richard also sent me a link to the John Coltrane site and a page of interviews. The one with Frank Kofsky has a short sequence about Albert Ayler starting around 22.15.
Dirk Goedeking sent me a link to a Polish radio station (Radio LUZ) presenting ‘the Artists for Peace series’, which includes Albert Ayler (featuring the Love Cry LP), who is described thus by Maciej Tomasiewicz (via google translate):
‘Albert Ayler was an idealist. He wanted to record music that would bring peace to the world, he wanted to change the world with a saxophone. He failed. The jazz audience saw Love Cry selling out, and the hippie youth was not interested in jazz. One of the founders of free jazz, a friend of Ornette Coleman, a musical revolutionist - Ayler was all of this in the 1960s. His position is evidenced by the fact that he performed at the funeral of John Coltrane. However, in 1968 the artist wanted to take a step forward, let the world show himself, be a prophet of new, loving times. However, he never succeeded, which he overpaid with a nervous breakdown.
The world would be a better place if there were more sensitive idealists among us like Albert Ayler. Despite the tragic character of his character, one can find true beauty in his cry of love for the world.’
I was going to write. ‘back to simpler times’, then I remembered the Cuban Missile Crisis, which took place in October, 1962. The following month Albert Ayler was playing with the Cecil Taylor group in Malmö, according to this newspaper ad which Dirk sent me. He found it on Jan Strom’s excellent site devoted to Jimmy Lyons. Dirk wondered if this was the earliest advert for an Ayler concert.
The details from the site are as follows:
‘62-1126 Erikslust, Malmö, Sweden CECIL TAYLOR QUARTET Cecil Taylor (p), Jimmy Lyons (as), Albert Ayler (ts), Sunny Murray (dr) 1. What's New 2. Unknown titles Notes: The gig was arranged by the club “Le Celeste”. No recording is known.’
Man With Big Record Collection II
Back in August 2020 I posted a bit about a ‘Man With Big Record Collection’ donating same to his local university. There’s now a follow-up story detailing dodgy goings-on in the academia and archive business. This may not be very Ayler-related, but I found it interesting.
No ‘Ghosts’, but there’s David Murray playing ‘Flowers for Albert’ at last year’s Padova Jazz Festival, a Turkish ‘Our Prayer’ on vibes and vocals, and this from the Italian seminar on Albert Ayler, mentioned last month:
Whereas I was intrigued by this item on the German Jazz Zeitung site, describing a radio programme broadcast at 11 p.m. on 27th March on the Bayern 2 station with the following description (google translated):
‘Late Night Jazz: Fakes and Facts - Where people cheated in jazz
Recordings that never took place like this but still became a hit, solos that were never played like this but became legendary, musicians that didn't exist and were nevertheless famous, the history of jazz is also one of fakes and falsifications. Late Night Jazz brings light into the darkness of lies, legends and jazz latin.’
And then there was this (Albert Ayler on sax, Ed Blackwell on drums - not together):