The latest release from Hat Hut is a bit of a curiosity. The complete 5 track recording of Spiritual Unity, preceded by two tracks (‘Summertime’ and ‘C.T.’) from My Name Is Albert Ayler. Perhaps the clue to this (almost) pairing is in the ‘Producer’s notes’ on the back cover: Werner X. Uehlinger’s description of the influence of Albert Ayler’s version of ‘Summertime’ on the formation of Hat Hut Records. So, perhaps not so revelatory a release as Lost Performances 1966 Revisited, or as welcome as the remastered Slugs’ Saloon and La Cave sessions, but, with the full five track version of Spiritual Unity, at the moment, only seemingly available direct from ESP-Disk, a necessary purchase for anyone who hasn’t got what is generally considered to be Albert Ayler’s masterpiece. Summertime To Spiritual UnityRevisited is available on bandcamp.
There’s a note on the back cover of Summertime To Spiritual UnityRevisited concerning the photograph of Albert on the front. It’s also used on the cover of Richard Koloda’s book, but the origin is unknown. It looks to me like one of those headshots that actors get to send round to agents, so I would think whichever neighbourhood photography studio in Cleveland or, perhaps, Scandinavia, has long since retired.
It’s that book again
More good reviews of the Koloda book, Holy Ghost; The Life & Death of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler:
Scott Yanow reviews the book under the title, ‘The Definitive Albert Ayler Biography’ on the LA Jazz Scene site. The Geordie opinion is expressed on the bebop spoken here site. And Des Cowley reviewed it for the Australian magazine, Rhythms, and that review can be read here.
By the way, Richard Koloda took time out to put his lawyer hat on and correct my speculations about Albert’s relationship with Mary Maria in last month’s ruminations about the Revelations box set.
‘Hi Patrick, quick suggestion on a choice of words. A Mexican divorce is not illegal --a better word would be invalid. The US government gives comity—meaning if Mexicans were divorced in Mexico, and moved to the states it would be valid. Because Ayler never went to Mexico, the proxy divorces are never recognized in the states. As for him being a bigamist, it is a bit of a legal term involving criminality, and since his mens rea (state of mind) did not know about the legalities of a Mexican divorce, it is doubtful he could have been charged.
As for a marriage to Parks, he would have had to produce a divorce decree that was notarized by a clerk of courts. No way he could have.
Now, the marriage with Parks was likely a “common law marriage” which was done back in that time—but to be valid, it would have to meet the requirements of the state where it was solemnized, i.e., holding themselves out to the world as married, and no impediments to them being married via the state. Such impediments would be a valid existing marriage. or in pre-1967 America (Loving), a statutory impediment to an inter-racial marriage (Kasper [Collin] was shocked that the Ayler marriage license listed race on it—this was to respect states that denied interracial marriages—so eloping was not done (and by the way, California banned marriages to Asians at this same time). Interestingly enough, common law marriage also was based on the origin of the state as a colony, i.e. common law marriages were frowned upon in the north because they were Protestant, i.e., English, where the government controlled the banns (think Henry VIII), while southern states were of Spanish, i.e., Catholic origin, and therefore the church controlled the marriages.
Also, the push against common law marriages had to do with the New Deal in the states, so one could establish a paper trail to prove social security benefits, as well as widows’ pensions (some Southern belles claimed to be the widows of Confederate veterans to claim pensions).
So Ayler’s “marriage” to Parks was invalid, but he believed it to be valid, hence the mens rea required for a criminal charge is lacking.’
And he didn’t charge me a penny!
More from the Fondation Maeght
Dirk Goedeking dug up a couple more Fondation Maeght items.
The description of the clip is:
‘The quartet in rehearsal of Second Act Of A in the Giacometti Courtyard of the museum. Complete excerpts from the French ORTF-TV program “L' invité du Dimanche”. Recorded on July 28 & 29, 1969 at the Maeght Foundation, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.’
Dirk adds the following:
‘A video of Cecil Taylor playing at the Fondation Maeght in 1969. Filmed outside accompanied by a ballet, it gives a fine impression of the atmosphere, so very different to a Greenwich Jazz Club. In my opinion this is no rehearsal but a performance. They play three sections: Part I 0:00 - 1:55, Part II 02:12 - 08:15 and Part III 08:50 - 11:32. The ballet starts at 02:00, in Part III. Rivers plays flute and adds an impressionistic touch. Somehow this makes the triple “Maeght-on-film” complete (together with “Albert Ayler, Le Dernier Concert” and “Sun Ra” both waiting in the cellar).
Dirk also found a Radio France documentary about the Shandar label:
‘With their three Taylor-Ayler-Ra releases, it matches perfectly with the above. The radio site uses the photos by Phillipe Gras, one of them reminding me of “... la révolution est musicale!”.
Although, given what’s happening at the moment, perhaps we shouldn’t mention the Bastille. In comparison, what a pusillanimous race the English are, forever tugging at the forelock, till we all end up miserable, small-minded, little baldy men. I digress. The Cecil Taylor video and Dirk’s comment about a trilogy of films sent me to imdb to see if Jean-Michel Meurice, who directed the Ayler documentary, was credited with the Sun Ra one. Instead I found that, not only is he not even credited with Albert Ayler: Le Dernier Concert, he passed away last September at the age of 83.
Hanns Eisler fighting songs
Just in: news from Pierre Crépon of a playlist he’s curated for The Wire of Hanns Eisler’s fighting songs, “ranging from 1930s shellac records to 1970s free jazz versions”.
Thanks go to Kees Hazevoet who dug out some items from Down Beat. Click below for the pdfs. The first (from Down Beat 27th February, 1964) is a review of the Cecil Taylor Unit at the Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center, New York on 31st December, 1963. This is the concert which I used to mention on the Unreleased Recordings page, but eventually dropped, since the rumoured tape never turned up anywhere in the 22 years I’ve been doing this site. Details are in the Sessionography, and here, finally, is a review:
Then there’s a review (from Down Beat 7th April, 1966) of the Titans of the Tenor concert, held at Lincoln Center on 19th February, 1966, which sparked a couple of letters, published in the edition of 5th May:
Bengt ‘Frippe’ Nordström
There’s an article by Magnus Säll in the Dagens Nyheter about the Swedish saxophonist, Bengt ‘Frippe’ Nordström, who was the man behind Albert Ayler’s first LP, Something Different!!!!! (aka The First Recordings). There’s a new box set of four vinyll LPs and a single of Nordström’s music released on the NI VU NI CONNU label.
Iain Ballamy’s ‘Albert’
Usually when I come across tributes to Albert Ayler I just put them on the relevant page, but this one was spotted by Sean Wilkie and he added a bit more information, so I thought I’d put that here.
‘I was very fond of Iain Ballamy’s debut LP, Balloon Man, back in the (1989/1990) day. I put his dedication, “Rahsaan”. onto several ‘mixtapes’ at the time and – incidentally - I heard him (promoting this album) on the second day of the Glasgow International Jazz Festival, 1 July 1990.
When I dug it out again, some time ago, I noticed that another track was called “Albert”. Mostly, the album is a sax & keyboards quartet, but on this track only, Django Bates plays his tenor horn, instead of keys. John Fordham’s sleeve notes describe this piece, very briefly, as “joyous” and, to my old ears, it’s quite evidently Ayler-inspired.
Ballamy played at the jazz pub in Cardiff last week, so I took the opportunity to confirm my suspicion. He said that the faster, jiggy bit, in the theme of “Truth Is Marching In”, was an inspiration for this theme.
I would surely have missed, in 1989/90, the idea that this was an Ayler tribute, because I only really knew the Spiritual Unity album, and none of the music by the bands with his brother that followed.
Editions EG / 1989 EG Records. “Recorded during December 1988 at the Live House Studios, Launceston, Cornwall.” Sleeve notes, John Fordham July 1989. Iain Ballamy (ss,as,ts) Django Bates (kbd, tenor horn on Albert) Steve Watts (b) Martin France (d)’
And finally ...
I was going to mention 10 Best Albert Ayler Songs of All Time above but then I read it and felt it should be placed here, where it makes as much sense as this repackaged version of My Name Is Albert Ayler (haven’t had one of those for ages) found by Dirk Goedeking. Here’s Amigo Dance:
And, if the strains of old Mexico don’t delight, then how about Dinner?
Yes, I posted this a couple of months ago, as a preview to this year’s Record Store Day, but now it’s been and gone so here are the details of this year’s Ayler selection. A four LP box set of Hat Hut’s 2021 2 CD compilation, Albert Ayler Quintet 1966: Berlin, Lörrach, Paris & Stockholm. Revisited (ezz-thetics 2-1117) released by ORG Music on 22nd April:
‘Europe 1966 is a box set consisting of live performances from free jazz visionary Albert Ayler. Each of the 4 LPs highlights some of the most magnificent moments on this European tour, showcasing Ayler and his bandmates at the height of their powers. The release includes performances from Berlin, Lörrach, Stockholm, and Paris, all of which occurred within a two week span. Ayler's masterful band on this tour included his brother Donald on trumpet, Michel Samson on violin, William Folwell on double bass, and Beaver Harris on drums. These performances have been remastered for vinyl by Dave Gardner at Infrasonic Mastering. The package also includes a 12 x 24 fold-out insert, featuring liner notes from John Litweiler and photos from the tour. The release will be available for Record Store Day 2023, with each LP pressed on audiophile-grade black vinyl at Pallas Group in Germany.
Berlin, November 3, 1966 A01_Truth Is Marching In 7:25 A02_Omega (Is The Alpha) 3:36 B01_Our Prayer - Truth Is Marching In 5:06 B02_Ghosts - Bells 11:29
Lörrach/Germany on November 7, 1966. C01_Bells 13:28 C02_Prophet 7:06 D01_Our Prayer - Spirits Rejoice 6:22 D02_Ghosts 3:26 D03_Truth Is Marching In 11:15
Stockholm, November 10, 1966 E01_Truth Is Marching In 9:15 E02_Omega (Is The Alpha) 10:36 F01_Our Prayer - Bells 7:51 F02_Infinite Spirit - Japan 3:53
Paris Jazz Festival on November 13, 1966. G01_Ghosts 7:43 H01_Spiritual Rebirth - Light In Darkness - Infinite Spirit 11:00 H02_All - Our Prayer - Holy Family 4:45’
There’s a lot more information online about this year’s Record Store Day releases, including Downbeat, Jazziz and the Record Store Day site. There’s also an interview on London Jazz News with Zev Feldman (aka ‘The Jazz Detective’) who was behind last year’s Ayler box set which caused a lot of comment, Revelations.
[Actually, one of the comments Revelations caused was my review in the March ‘What’s New’ and I need to add a correction here. I did ponder whether less is sometimes more and in the case of the first concert I suggested that the ESP release, Live on the Riviera, had cherry-picked the best bits. Sean Wilkie then let me know that I had it all wrong and Live on the Riviera is the first part of the concert, in the same order. In my defence I must claim ignorance and old age. I first heard Live on the Riviera as a copy of its original incarnation as a bootleg CD given away on an Italian magazine, some years before its journey to ESP. I assumed, at the time, that 'Ghosts' (Ayler's last recorded performance of his iconic tune) was some sort of encore, so that when I got to hear the complete concert (not the remastered Revelations one) and realised that was not the case, I just assumed (again) that the Italians had just picked the best bits out of a concert which, I still reckon, is not a patch on the second one. Anyway, my mistake. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.]
Marte Röling Covers
I apologise if I just seem to be going through the last archived What’s New page picking out random stuff, but I just recalled posting a photo of John Tchicai with the artist, Marte Röling, back in January and I came across this page of her Fontana covers, including the unused one for Albert Ayler’s Spirits, which, judging by the information was supposed to be Ghosts.
Hat Hut has a new Bandcamp address where all the recent Albert Ayler ezz-thetics releases are listed. That’s La Cave Live Cleveland 1966, At Slugs’ Saloon 1966, Lost Performances 1966 and Summertime to Spiritual Unity.
Brian Atkins emailed to ask me if I’d ever come across a recording by the Brotherhood Consort, which included a version of ‘Truth Is Marching In’. I hadn’t and he kindly sent me a copy. Doing a bit of research I found the details on the BigO site and it was recorded at the Cité de la Musique, Paris, on 9th February, 2008. The Brotherhood Consort consisted of Raphaël Imbert (saxes, direction), Marie Béreau (violin), Jean-Luc Di Fraya (percussion, voice), André Rossi (organ), Michel Peres (double bass), Simon Tailleu (double bass), Mourad Benhammou (drums). And the track list of the recording is as follows:
Raphaël Imbert crops up a few times on this site. I’ve mentioned his version of ‘Ghosts’ on youtube, and he was also a member of The Alppalachians (always have to check that spelling - there’s a cracking version of ‘Holy Family’ on youtube) and was part of that massive tribute to Albert Ayler held in Paris in December, 2010, which is still available on the Daily Motion site in 18 parts (Imbert is in Part 13). There’s more on M. Imbert here and this is ‘Ayler Everywhere’:
The New York Review of Books
There’s an article by Andrew Katzenstein about Albert Ayler in the May issue of The New York Review of Books. It’s entitled ‘Escaping from Notes to Sound’ and covers three recent Ayler releases, two books, the English translation of Peter Niklas Wilson’s Spirits Rejoice!: Albert Ayler and His Message and Richard Koloda’s Holy Ghost: The Life and Death of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler and the CD box set, Revelations: The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings.
There are more reviews of Richard Koloda’s book:
Prospect Magazine - alongside Aiden Levy’s recent biography of Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins.
‘Koloda’s “Ghost” Details Life, Death of Jazz Iconoclast: CSU alumnus delivers “Citizen Kane” like oral history on jazz mysterion Albert Ayler that is at once a music biography and detective thriller.’
But more importantly a couple of new releases. A new book (in French) by Nicolas Fily about Don Cherry entitled Don Cherry: Le Petit Prince Du Free. It’s reviewed on Radio France (which was featured in a recent episode of Astrid: Murder in Paris) and further information is available from the publisher, Le Mot et le Reste.
And a new release from Roscoe Mitchell, Evolutionary Events, with Kikanju Baku. It’s a limited edition cassette on the Ethnicity Against the Error label and there’s a review on the Something Else! site and a video on youtube.
Jim Allen has a piece on Bandcamp Daily entitled ‘Elevating the Underground: The ’70s NYC Loft Jazz Scene’ which gives some background to Frank Wright’s 1974 album, Blues for Albert Ayler.
Not to be confused with “Flower” from 1999’s Holdypaws, or “Flower” from Apple O’ or the recent “Wedding, March, Flower,” that was released as a single from Miracle-Level, this “Flower” was composed on GarageBand by Saunier while riding shotgun in the tour minivan. When asked about the reuse of titles, Saunier says it was inspired by free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler who had a lot of songs called “Ghosts” and “Spirits.”
“We always just thought that was so cool and so we thought that eventually we should have multiple songs with the same name. And we like pretty things–fruits, flowers, cute animals, stuff like that–so ‘flower’ keeps coming up.”
It’s true that Albert was a bit cavalier with his titles, but ‘Ghosts’ was always ‘Ghosts’ and it’s more that he recorded the same ‘songs’ multiple times, rather than using the same names for multiple ‘songs’.
A version of ‘Ghosts’ for harmonium and soprano sax, both played by Jed Cutler. ‘Angels’ for solo double bass from Bernard Santacruz Solo - Live au Temple Grignan (starts around 17:33). Another ‘Ghosts’. And a “Curator Led Exhibition Walkthrough Milford Graves Fundamental Frequency”.
And finally ...
The British Library Newspaper Archive is a useful resource if you’re researching forgotten Victorian writers (which I do), although it has gone off a bit since the early days. It seems to have changed its target audience from people researching forgotten Victorian writers to the Genealogy crowd, so most of the new newspapers tend to be more provincial, local rags, better for helping you find out what your Uncle John did in the war. I actually had two Uncle Johns, one won the Iron Cross at Stalingrad, the other was a right bastard. Anyway, I still use it occasionally and this time I did try a search for ‘Albert Ayler’. Not really expecting much, but there were a few things I didn’t know, such as:
An early tribute to Ayler following his death is reported in the Newcastle Journal of 18th December, 1970. At a performance by the Alan Glen Band at the Robin Adair, Scotswood Road, Newcastle: “One of the original compositions by Alan which made up most of the evening’s performance was titled ‘Poor Old Albert’ and dedicated to Ayler.”
A nice review of a book of jazz record reviews by that cloth-eared old curmudgeon, Philip Larkin, in the Hull Daily Mail of 11th February, 1970.
A couple of performances by Albert Anal from the Manchester Evening News. The first from 13th January, 1995:
Three weeks later (3rd February) they’ve changed (perhaps corrected?) their name and dropped the price of admission by 50p.
The rest is silence. I wonder if they’re still going. I hesitate to google them for fear of what I’ll find.
One from my local paper, the Evening Sentinel of 30th December, 1969, Albert gets a passing mention in Mick Wormald’s review of the year. You needn’t bother with this one, I just included it for friend Clive (you could buy a fridge for £31 19s 6d in Lewis’s sale).
A list of lost TV programmes in The Birmingham Post of 4th September, 1993, which includes the following:
Oh, I almost forgot - God save the King! The fascist regime. (Bugger!)
June 1 2023
The Albert Ayler Award 2023
This year’s “Albert Ayler Award” (sponsored by Steve Tintweiss) was presented to Yu Chieh Chen at the May 25th Commencement Ceremony of the Aaron Copland School of Music at the LeFrak Concert Hall. Steve first sponsored the award in 2016 and he writes:
“It is my hope that the recognition and modest stipend will motivate each awardee to pursue their own creativity and acquaint themselves with the music and spirit of Albert Ayler. It is a faculty committee that determines the graduating student recipient each year, based on demonstrated original creativity and excellence displayed during the two year program in instrumental jazz performance, improvisation or jazz composition, with the intention of pursuing careers as a professional musician.”
The award ceremony was broadcast on youtube - the Albert Ayler Award kicks in at 1.01.51:
Richard Koloda’s Holy Ghost
unfortunately didn’t win the Jazz Journalists Association Book Award (in the Biography/Autobiography of the Year section), which went instead to Aidan Levy’s Saxophone Colossus: The Life And Music Of Sonny Rollins. Our commiserations go to Richard, but here’s another review (from Italy) and the Abel Cecchi / Noah Sherman Duo performing at Richard’s book signing event at Oberlin, Ohio on 22nd April.
Usually when we mention Mars Williams it’s Christmas and he’s on his Ayler Xmas tour again, but this time it’s not so jolly. Mars Williams is going through a battle with cancer (it’s always a battle - I had a skirmish myself a few years ago) and if you want to help him out there’s a Go Fund Me appeal, There’s more information in the Chicago Reader.
Museums and Archives and things of that nature
Dirk Goedeking writes to say that the ‘Albert Ayler Museum’ is reopening:
“The Musée Albert Ayler in Lyon will reopen with a new design. On June 21, 2023 at 21:00 it should be a Midsummer Night's Dream. Still situated in the river Saône, right in front of the Euronews building, it sadly doesn't exist. But Manon Marcoux supplies a fine inauguration poster. An entrance door, a tour sign and items from the shop can also be seen on her site. Nothing but a dream.”
Dirk first told me about the Musée Albert Ayler in August 2020 and that version is still online. When I was searching for that previous incarnation on this site I also came across what could be the fons et origo of this particular jeu d’esprit. In the October 1968 edition of Jazz Hot there is an article by Yves Buin, ostensibly a review of In Greenwich Village and Love Cry, which is entitled ‘Le Musée Imaginaire d’ Albert Ayler’. It did occur to me that the fictitious Musée Albert Ayler is about as much use as those museums and archives which possess material relating to Albert Ayler, but which is so jealously guarded that it is never allowed to see the light of day, unless, of course, money changes hands. I had another look at the French broadcasting archive, the I.N.A., and found a couple of items. A 1996 video of Bobby Few and Steve Potts playing Ayler’s ‘Spirits’, which was freely available to members of the great unwashed, and then, if you searched the INA MediaPro section you find the Bordeaux 1966 Sigma Festival, or at least the TV programme made about the event, which includes a clip of the Ayler group, with the following information:
Programme title: Carte blanche à Collection: RTF / ORTF Documentary note no.: CPF86618553 First broadcast date: monday 28/11/1966’
Click on it and you have to register for an account, and then, like Kafka’s door-keeper before the Law, you get the following:
‘Access conditions : You have to be part of the professional audiovisual industry with a project requiring the purchase of rights.’
[“I am now going to shut it.”]
It’s just another ‘Musée Imaginaire d’Albert Ayler’.
Everybody probably knows about the Past Daily site, but I’m late to the party so, in light of the above, I thought I’d mention it here. It’s a sound archive and there’s a lot of jazz on there. No Ayler though, but it’s worth taking a look. For example there’s a 1963 Sonny Rollins/Don Cherry Copenhagen concert and a 1959 Jimmy Giuffre concert in Rome. Loads of great listening.
Some follow-ups to items mentioned before:
1. Dirk Goedeking let me know about the release of a double album from the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra on June 16th in celebration of their 60th birthday. There are two tracks from 60 Years on bandcamp to check out now.
‘This release is the culmination of 60 years of Black history through sound. Since its conception in 1961, the Ark has had a mission echoed by every director since Horace Tapscott himself, "To preserve the music of Black composers, dead or alive. To perform this music in our neighborhoods, for our people." The institution of the Arkestra fostered a culture of community, spirituality, Black empowerment, and most importantly, love. I am forever indebted to my ancestors and grateful to you, reading this message, for your part in the music as a listener. Peace. - Mekala Session’
2. Abdul Wadud of the Black Unity Trio is the subject of an article in The New York Times, which I noted and meant to return to, but forgot that you only get one look and then, like some page of the Necronomicon it vanishes forever. But the gist was that Abdul Wadud’s solo cello LP, By Myself, from 1977 is being reissued. Information at Soundohm or The New York Times if you haven’t already seen it.
3. There was a Memorial Concert for Margaret Davis Grimes (tireless jazz advocate and wife of Henry Grimes) at the New Jewish Home, Manhattan on 28th May, with music provided by Tarik Shah (b) Joy Brown (voc), Alan ‘Wink’ Flythe (sax), Tim Regusis (p) and Matt Niedbalski (d). There are videos on youtube, search for ‘Tarik Shah and Friends, Memorial Concert for Margaret Davis Grimes’. And here’s ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’:
Dirk also sent me this picture of the biggest Ayler photo he’s ever seen. It was shown at the LUMA Foundation in Arles last Autumn as part of Arthur Jafa’s “Live Evil” exhibition.
John Pope Quintet
There’s a review of a Live Album Recording by the John Pope Quintet at the Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle-on-Tyne on the London Jazz News site, mentioned here because of the following:
‘“Shiryõ” (the souls of the dead in Japanese folklore) is a double tribute to Albert Ayler and Ryuichi Sakamoto, a fruitful yoking of opposing impulses of Ayler’s free noise and Sakamoto’s melodism, that crashes into a full-on everyone-playing-everything blowing session—as well as featuring a highlight Faye MacCalman second night tenor solo.’
David Meeker R.I.P.
I only caught this by accident on the Organissimo site and haven’t seen any confirmation elsewhere but it seems that David Meeker has died., He was the author of that indipensable book, Jazz In The Movies (London: Talisman Books, 1977). It’s a fantastic piece of scholarship and is actually available online as a pdf file under the title Jazz on the Screen.
And finally . .
Friend Clive spotted this in the Total TV Guide of 6-12 May: Maybe I’m getting blasé about Albert, but I must admit I was more surprised by the inclusion of Gato Barbieri.
That’s in the nature of a free gift to while away the hours, so I thought I’d also add this, which, with its random inclusion of Spiritual Unity, is a cruel taunt to a man who’s getting a hearing aid for his one good ear in the next few weeks. This is an exhaustive review from Michael Lavorgna’s Twittering Machines site of the “Perlisten S5t Tower Speakers (Price: $13,990/pair in High Gloss Black/White | $15,990/pair in Special Edition High Gloss Ebony and Natural Black Cherry)”. And, yes, they really are this big (see the people in the background).