As Serious As Your Lifeby Val Wilmer London: Allison & Busby, 1977, 296 pages. (current edition - London: Serpent’s Tail, 1999, 304 pages, ISBN 1852427302)
Journalist and photographer, Val Wilmer chronicled the Free Jazz scene as it was happening. Her book, As Serious As Your Life is an acknowledged classic and the chapter on Albert Ayler is the source for much of the Jeff Schwartz biography.
Albert Ayler: His Life and Music by Jeff Schwartz Unpublished, 1993. Available online.
Jeff Schwartz credits Val WIlmer as the source for much of his own book, however he also draws on a number of other sources to compile an oral history of Albert Ayler. All recording sessions are listed and the author adds his own critical evaluation.
Spirits Rejoice: Albert Ayler und seine Botschaft (Spirits Rejoice: Albert Ayler and His Message) by Peter Niklas Wilson Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag, 1996, 190 pages, ISBN 3-923997-71-X
The only published full-length biography of Albert Ayler (unfortunately unavailable in an English translation) was written by Peter Niklas Wilson. Wilson, who sadly died in October 2003, was a German musician, writer, broadcaster and academic who wrote a series of books about jazz musicians, including Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Anthony Braxton and Albert Ayler. The Ayler book contains an extensive biography, an analysis of Ayler's style and an annotated discography. Wilson met with Edward and Donald Ayler and also interviewed many musicians associated with Albert Ayler, including Sunny Murray, Michel Samson, Milford Graves, Steve Tintweiss, Bobby Few and Gary Peacock.
In June 2013 an Italian translation was published: Albert Ayler. Lo spirito e la rivolta Translated and edited by Francesco Martinelli and Antonio Pellicori Italy: Edizioni ETS, 2013, 274 pages, ISBN: 9788846735720
And in February 2022 an English translation was (finally) published: Spirits Rejoice! Albert Ayler and His Message Translated by Jane White. [“The publisher would like to express its sincere thanks to both our dedicated translator Jane White and to Gordon Lobban, who provided the impetus for the creation of this English edition and supervised it to its conclusion.”] Germany: Wolke Verlag, 2022, 176 pp, photos, pb., € 24., 978-3-95593-109-4.
Although it cannot be purchased separately and two sections of the book relate directly to the 9 CDs of music in the Holy Ghost box set, there is enough other material to make this qualify as the first ‘proper’ book about Albert Ayler published in the English language. The contents are as follows:
1. ‘Spiritual Unity’ by Val Wilmer (An updated version of the chapter in As Serious As Your Life) 2. ‘You Think This Is About You?’ by Amiri Baraka (Amiri Baraka’s memories of Ayler in his own inimitable style) 3. ‘Whence’ by Ben Young (Ayler’s influences) 4. ‘Albert Ayler in Europe: 1959-62’ by Marc Chaloin (A meticulously researched essay about Ayler’s first visits to Europe.) 5. ‘Apparitions of Albert the Great in Paris and Saint-Paul-de-Vence’ by Daniel Caux (Ayler at the Fondation Maeght) 6. ‘Witnesses’ compiled by Ben Young (Reminiscences of Ayler) 7. ‘Tracks’ by Ben Young (The sleevenotes to the 9 CDs in the box) 8. ‘Sidemen’ by Ben Young, Tom Greenwood and Matti Konttinen (Brief biographies of all the other musicians on the CDs) 9. ‘Appendix’ A. ‘Close Encounter with Holy Ghost (and Horn) by Carl Woideck (A short article about Ayler’s saxophones) B. ‘Sightings’ by Ben Young and Carlos Kase (An extensive Ayler sessionography)
Holy Ghost: The Life And Death Of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler by Richard Koloda London: Jawbone Press, 2022, 304 pages.
Originally conceived as a collaboration between Cleveland lawyer, Richard Koloda, and Donald Ayler, this definitive biography of the Ayler brothers was over 20 years in the writing: involving extensive research, interviews with musicians, family and friends, and intimate knowledge of their home town.
Albert Ayler: Vibrations by Emmanuel Clerc Marseille: Le Mot Et Le Reste, 2023, 132 pages.
Albert Ayler, Sunny Murray, Cecil Taylor, Byard Lancaster, Kenneth Terroade : on disc & tape by Mike Hames M. Hames, 1983, 63 pages - out of print. ‘Privately printed by the author with the financial assistance of the Arts Council of Great Britain.’
The Freedom Principle: Jazz After 1958 by John Litweiler New York: W. Morrow, 1984. Paperback reprint: Da Capo Press, 1990, 324 pages.
Chapter 7 (pp. 20) is devoted to Albert Ayler.
La Marseillaise by Marc-Edouard Nabe France: La Dilettante, 1989, 38 pages - out of print.
An essay on the French national anthem (no English translation), published in a limited edition (666 copies) on the bicentenary of the French Revolution. According to Paul Jimenes (who first let me know about the book): “The author says that the Marseillaise he prefers is that of Ayler, and that the official French national hymn bothers him. He says why he loves Ayler. It's not a historical book. I have the impression that Nabe made variations on a theme, that he tries to write as Ayler played ... and I reckon that the author reached his aim (we can feel the beginning of the songs, with Ayler and his brother calling people on a slow rhythm, then the frantic choruses, we can feel the rage of the drums, and then the sort of decreasing of the tension...). I think this book is a good description of Ayler's sound and music.”
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Improvisation analysis of selected works of Albert Ayler, Roscoe Mitchell and Cecil Taylor by Jane Martha Reynolds PhD thesis (unpublished) University of Wisconsin - Madison, 1993.
David Sanders has provided the following description:
“The main discussion of Albert Ayler in this thesis fills the first chapter, summarized again later in the conclusion. It outlines Ayler’s unconventional improvisation and his composition styles and techniques, including his use of wide vibrato, motivic riffing, overblown notes, and folk themes. The main focus of the chapter is an analysis of Ayler’s improvisation on the version of Ghosts from Prophecy. Reynolds claims that Ayler’s improvisation progressively becomes more and more timbrally based (she means further away from the theme and traditionally sounded notes in general) until tonal references are the only structural device linking his improvisation to the composition.”
Tous les blues d'Albert Ayler by Simon Guibert E-Dite, France, 2005, 133 pages. ISBN 2846081638
Based on the radio documentary by Simon Guibert and Yvon Croizier broadcast on France Musique in February 2005.
The Boy Who Cried Freebird: Rock & Roll Fables and Sonic Storytelling by Mitch Myers Harper Entertainment, 2007, 336 pages. ISBN 978-0061139017
The chapter, ‘SPIRITS, GHOSTS, WITCHES, AND DEVILS’ (pp. 237-257) is devoted to Albert Ayler.
Secret Carnival Workers by Paul Haines (edited by Stuart Broomer) U.S.: Coach House Books, 2007, 248 pages. ISBN: 9780978342609
Great Black Music: Un parcours en 110 albums essentiels by Philippe Robert Marseille: Le Mot et le reste, 2008. (Text on Ayler’s New Grass, pp. 46-47)
Albert Ayler: témoignages sur un Holy Ghost edited by Franck Médioni France: Le Mot et le reste, 2010, 332 pages. ISBN 9782915378887
Preface by Archie Shepp, contributions from Francis Marmande, Michel Le Bris, Robert Latxague, Daniel Caux, Gérard Rouy, Yves Buin, P-L. Renou, Philippe Robert, Jean-Pierre Moussaron, Jean-Louis Chautemps, Daniel Berger, Jacques Bisceglia, Christian Désagulier, Didier Levallet, François Tusques, Raphaël Imbert, Zéno Bianu, Yoyo Maeght and Franck Médioni, and témoignages (testimony) from Gary Peacock, Sonny Rollins, Sunny Murray, Alain Corneau, Bertrand Denzler, Bobby Few, Joëlle Léandre, Archie Shepp, David Murray, Aldo Romano, Michel Portal, François Jeanneau, David Liebman, Joe Lovano, David S. Ware, Charles Gayle, Oliver Lake, Daunik Lazro, Peter Brotzmann, Joe McPhee, Marc Ribot, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Noah Howard, Steve Lacy, Urs Leimgruber, François Corneloup, Sylvain Kassap, Louis Sclavis, Evan Parker, Cecil Taylor and Wayne Shorter.
L'Art contemporain et la Côte d'Azur, un territoire pour l'expérimentation, 1951-2011. Dijon: Presses du Réel, 2011. (Contains a text by Philippe Robert on the Nuits de la Fondation Maeght.)
Le Temps de l'écoute, pratiques sonores et musicales sur la Côte d'Azur des années 1950 à nos jours. Dijon: Presses du Réel and Villa Arson, 2014. (Contains material on Ayler at the Fondation Maeght.)
Albert Ayler oder Die Zukunft der Schönheit (Albert Ayler or The Future of Beauty) by Friedrich Christian Delius Germany: Rowohlt E-Book, 45 pages, 2017.
Die Zukunft der Schönheit Rowohlt Berlin, 96 pages, February, 2018. ISBN: 978-3-7371-0040-3
AA Fifty Years Later Albert Ayler edited by Shigetsugu Hosoda Japan: Companysha Ltd., 2021,512 pages. ISBN: 978-4-910065 -04-5
‘Now and Then’ by Leroi Jones First published in Tales New York: Grove Press, 1968, 132 pages. (currently available in The Fiction of Leroi Jones /Amiri Baraka Lawrence Hill Books, 2000, 462 pages, ISBN 155652353X)
“This musician and his brother always talked about spirits. They were good musicians, talking about spirits, and they had them, the spirits, and soared with them, when they played. The music would climb, and bombard everything, destroying whole civilizations, it seemed.”
The name ‘Ayler’ never appears, but the connection is obvious.
Leroi Jones, later known as Amiri Baraka, was one of the most important writers of his generation. A respected poet, playwright, essayist and political activist, he was heavily involved in the 'free jazz' scene of the 1960s and was responsible for the recording session which resulted in Sonny’s Time Now. The LP was originally released on his own Jihad label and his performance of his poem Black Art with the group gave rise to a great debate (in England at least, in the pages of Jazz Monthly) about whether Albert Ayler’s music was politically motivated, or even, given the extreme imagery of Black Art, racist. Ayler's strange 'essay', ‘To Mr. Jones - I Had a Vision' was published in Baraka's magazine, The Cricket in 1969 and Baraka also recorded an album by Don Ayler for Jihad which has never been released. Baraka's relationship with the Ayler brothers raises a number of questions, none of which are answered in his contribution to the Holy Ghost book (see above). It would have been nice if he'd removed his poet's hat for a while and followed the advice of Joe Friday, but it was not to be.
Les Treize Morts d’Albert Ayler (The Thirteen Deaths of Albert Ayler) de Collectif France: Gallimard (Série noire), 1996, 284 pages - out of print
A collection of 13 short stories published in France. There is no English translation. The preface is by the jazz critic, Michel Contat and the book features 13 stories - plus one - on Ayler. The authors are: Michael Guinzburg, Gilles Anquetil, Patrick Bard, Yves Buin, Jean-Claude Charles, Jerome Charyn, Max Geneve, Jean-Claude Izzo, Thierry Jonquet, Bernard Meyet, Jean-Bernard Pouy, Hervé Prudon, Michel Le Bris and Jon A. Jackson. More information available here.
Night Work by Steve Hamilton U.S.: St. Martin's Minotaur hardcover (Sept 18, 2007) ISBN: 9780312353612 U.K.: Orion hardcover (March 6, 2008) ISBN: 9780752873978 Orion trade paperback (March 6, 2008) ISBN: 9780752885940
A novel by the award-winning author of the acclaimed Alex McKnight series, Night Work features a new character, probation officer, Joe Trumbull - and he's an Albert Ayler fan.
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Comme le Fantome d'un Jazzman dans la Station Mir en Déroute by Maurice G. Dantec France: Albin Michel, 2009, 210 pages. ISBN-10: 2226188754 ISBN-13: 978-2226188755
“Le long d'une autoroute qui file vers le sud, au.son d'un saxophone kamikaze, la cavale hallucinée d'un couple atteint par un étrange neurovirus qui connecte leur cerveau à la station Mir et à son Ange Gardien, le jazzman Albert Ayler. Un voyage au-delà de la réalité et de l'infini, entre états altérés de la conscience et phases de réadaptation.“
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Albert Ayler Disappeared by F.A. Nettelbeck. U.S.: Inkblot, 1989 - available online.
35 short poems, from the 'rare experimentalist who refuses to lose touch with the common American.’
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Mélopée for Albert Ayler the Magnificent (Recitative for Albert Ayler the Magnificent) Text by André Verdet. Illustrations by Jean Miotte. Edited By Dorothea Keeser Germany: Edition und Verlag Hamburg, 1996, 44 pages, 32 color reproductions (ISBN 3-928090-04-6) $30.
Dr. Dorothea Keeser of the Chelsea Art Museum in New York (now closed) provided the following description of this book:
“The book was first published in 1996. The idea came from André Verdet who had known Albert Ayler well (Ayler had visited him in St. Paul de Vence). André Verdet created a poem around Ayler which is half in English and half in French and is printed in the book. It is illustrated by paintings of the artist Jean Miotte. The designer who made the lay-out was inspired by a jazz concert with crescendo and decrescendo, reproducing the painting smaller, bigger etc. During that year it won a prize for the best designed book in Germany. It was published for the opening of the new studio of Jean Miotte in the South of France, where André Verdet gave a concert with his group 'Betelgeuse' for the opening, reciting his song/poem about Ayler as one of the main pieces.”
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Suite pour Albert Ayler by Zéno Bianu France: Les Faunes, 2002
French poems. Further information about Zéno Bianu is available here.
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Ghosts by Albert Ayler,Ghosts by Albert Ayler by Merry Fortune U.S.: Futurepoem Books, 2004, 128 pages. ISBN 0971680035
Roctober No. 24, 1999, contains, among other things: “Albert Ayler murder conspiracy theories...in comix form!” by Omar Abdel-Waheb.
Astral Project by Marginal (Garon Tsuchiya) & Syuji Takeya
(A manga series originally serialised in the magazine, Comic Beam, beginning in 2005. An English version is available as a graphic novel in four volumes.
Volume 1 CMX Manga, 2008, 200 pages. ISBN-10: 1401217486 ISBN-13: 9781401217488 “Masahiko is estranged from his family and lives a dead-end life in Tokyo, working as a chauffeur for high-class call girls. When his sister dies under mysterious circumstances, he inherits an unlabeled CD from her possessions. Listening to the jazz music it contains, he is propelled into an out-of-body experience. As he repeats the experience, he begins to wonder if this was how his sister died. Masahiko is determined to find the cause of her death and the mystery behind the CD.”
Volume 2 CMX Manga, 2009, 200 pages. ISBN-10: 1401217494 ISBN-13: 9781401217495 “Masahiko learns about the origin of the mysterious creature in the sky while it tries to warn him that he should get rid of the CD. Masahiko's not about to do that, even though jazz collector Oga is bringing in some muscle to take it by force. More is revealed about the girl from Masahiko's astral journey.And just when things can't get any stranger, a painted figure steps out of a book...”
Volume 3 CMX Manga, 2009, 240 pages. ISBN-10: 1401217508 ISBN-13: 9781401217501 “The painting man wants Masahiko to forget Misa. After the two travelers seal their date on the astral plain with a kiss, this doesn't seem likely. But when Misa's mom is in a horrible accident, will Masahiko stand by her? Meanwhile, in America, there is a female who can channel the dead. What does she know about Asami? And what does any of this have to do with the U.S. government?”
Volume 4 CMX Manga, 2009, 200 pages. ISBN-10: 1401217516 ISBN-13: 9781401217518 “In this final volume, Masahiko's dead sister possesses another girl, but the results might prove deadly to her host. The mysterious jazz CD gets played on the radio, causing a whole outbreak of astral projections and upsetting the Painted Man and his monstrous friend. And the true reason behind Asami's untimely death is finally revealed. Will Masahiko at last find peace?”
The Jeff Schwartz website includes a fairly extensive bibliography, citing all the sources used for his biography of Ayler, including magazine articles. The following list includes the most significant items (some of which on this site).
Val Wilmer: “Musicians Talking: Albert & Don Ayler talk to Valerie Wilmer.” Jazz Monthly (UK), Vol. 12, No. 10, December 1966, p. 11-13. A revised and extended version of this interview entitled, “Spirits Rejoice: Albert & Don Ayler”, was also published in Coda Magazine (Canada), No. 272, March/April 1997, p.4-7. A French version was published in Jazz Magazine (France), September 1996. Extracts from the interview were first published in the article, “Ayler: Mystic Tenor With a Direct Hotline to Heaven?” in Melody Maker (UK), October 15, 1966, p. 6. The interview was recorded by Val Wilmer in September 1966 at 61 Horatio St., New York. The original tape no longer exists.
Frank Kofsky: “An interview with Albert and Don Ayler.” Jazz & Pop (US), September 1968.
Kiyoshi Koyama: "Interview with Albert Ayler." Swing Journal (Japan) October 1970. The interview was recorded on July 25, 1970 in St. Paul-de-Vence, France and was subsequently issued in 2004 on Disc 9 of Revenant’s Holy Ghost box set.
Daniel Caux and Jacqueline Caux: "My Name is Albert Ayler." L'Art Vivant (France), No. 17, February 1971. An English translation of the interview entitled, “The road to freedom”, was first published in The Wire (UK), No. 227, January 2003, p. 38-41. The interview was recorded on July 27, 1970 in St. Paul-de-Vence, France for the France Culture radio station. In 2004 the recording was issued on Disc 8 of Revenant’s Holy Ghost box set.
Bob Rusch: "Donald Ayler: Interview." Cadence (US), February 1979, p. 14-17.
Articles by Albert Ayler
“Untitled”International Times (UK), No. 10, March 13-26, 1967, p. 9.
Philippe Carles, Patrice Blanc-Francard, Steve Lacy, Yasmina Khassani, Jean-Louis Comolli, Pierre Lattès, Daniel Caux, Delfeil de Ton, Jacques Réda: “Un Soir Autour d’Ayler.”Jazz Magazine (France), No. 192, September 1971, p. 26-31, 48-50.
Alain Tercinet, Chris Flicker & Gerard Noel: “Albert Ayler.”Jazz Hot (France), 1971, p. 22-25.
Michael Kaler: “Religious Imperatives, Boogaloo Rhythms: Taking another Listen to Albert Ayler’s New Grass.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture (Canada) Vol. 25, No. 2, Summer 2013.
IL JAZZ: 67 - Albert Ayler Fratelli Fabbri Editori (Italy), 1969. Text by Franco Fayenz. Music guide by Bruno Schiozzi. 17 page booklet with an EP of three tracks from Love Cry: Ghosts, Love Flower and Zion Hill. (A copy of the booklet is available on this site.)
Jazz. Gli uomini, gli strumenti, gli stili: 82 - Albert Ayler Fabbri Editori (Italy), 1987. Text by Franco Fayenz, Bruno Schiozzi and Giacomo Battistella. 12 page booklet with the complete album, Ghosts, on cassette. (A copy of the booklet is available on this site.)
Let’s Jazz: 29 - Albert Ayler Público (Portugal), 2005. Text by Pedro Costa, José Duarte and Jorge Lima Barreto. 60 page hardback book, with a compilation CD featuring 9 tracks from the Ayler Impulse catalog: Holy Ghost, Spirits Rejoice and For John Coltrane from Live In Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings, New Grass / Message From Albert, Heart Love and New Ghosts from New Grass, Drudgery, Masonic Inborn and Island Harvest from Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe.
1. New York Eye And Ear Control (US) 1964. 34 mins. Directed by Michael Snow.
“New York Eye and Ear Control prefigures the experiments with perspective and duration that Michael Snow would develop more fully in his later work. Its two-part structure reflects the theme of duality which runs throughout the film both structurally and visually. In the first part, cut-out figures from his Walking Woman Works series of painting and sculptures are placed in various landscapes whose depths contrast with the flat figures. In the second, numerous people pose in a loft with the same figures. The overall calmness of the imagery finds its opposite in the free jazz soundtrack that accompanies it. New York Eye and Ear Control brings together the worlds of jazz and visual art that fed Snow's creativity, but its bluntly obvious structure seems primitive when compared to the more complex structural variations of Wavelength and Back and Forth.” ~ Tom Vick, All Movie Guide.
Although Ayler was in the group which provided the soundtrack, and also appears in the film, there is no footage of him playing. The film is available on youtube.
2. Albert Ayler: Le Dernier Concert (France) 1970. 51 mins. Directed by Jean-Michel Meurice.
A documentary of Ayler’s final concert at the Fondation Maeght. Shot in colour, the film consists of excerpts from the performance intercut with an interview with Albert Ayler conducted by Daniel Caux. The film has been shown at various jazz and film festivals but has never been televised or made available in any commercial form. The film is kept in the archives of the Fondation Maeght in St. Paul-de-Vence. In June, 2020 the Fondation Maeght Newsletter included a 2 minute 33 second clip of footage from the film. Stills from the film are available here.
3. My Name Is Albert Ayler (Sweden) 2005. 79 mins. Directed by Kasper Collin.
“To make Albert Ayler live again is a daunting task for a filmmaker, because little archival footage exists of Ayler’s life and career. But through an inspired assemblage of photos, rare films, music, audio interviews with Ayler and extensive recent filmed interviews with family members, friends and fellow artists, Ayler is indeed made flesh. The interviews with Ayler’s 89-year-old father, his brother/sideman Donald Ayler (who now struggles with mental illness) and drummer Sunny Murray rivet the viewer’s imagination and haunt it when the film is over. Director Collin achieves the almost impossible: He creates a portrait of artistic sainthood that is persuasive and unsentimental. My Name Is Albert Ayler is one of the most starkly beautiful and moving documentaries ever made about a jazz musician.” ~ Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times Magazine.
My Name Is Albert Ayler has been shown around the world at various film festivals. As well as excerpts from New York Eye and Ear Control and Le Dernier Concert, it includes brief footage from Ayler’s appearance at the Berlin Jazz Festival in November, 1966. For some reason (possibly legal problems) the film has never been released on dvd, but it was shown on Swedish TV and a copy of this version has appeared on various websites.
1. Speaking in Tongues (UK) 1987. Directed by Doug Harris. (No live footage of Ayler, but featuring photos and music. Available, in 3 parts, on youtube.)
2. Inside Out in the Open (US) 2001. Directed by Alan Roth. (No live footage of Ayler, but featuring photos and music. Available on youtube.)
3. Fire Music (US) 2021. Directed by Tom Surgal. (A 3 minute section on Ayler includes a short excerpt from the Munich TV studio footage. The film is available on the Criterion Channel.)
Ayler’s music is used in the following films:
1. In Spite of the Tennis, the Facts are There (USA) 1967. Directed by Tyrone Goss. Track: unknown.
2. Drømme støjer ikke når de dør (“Dreams Make No Noise When They Die“) (Denmark) 1979. Directed by Christian Braad Thomsen. Track: ‘Truth Is Marching In’.
3. L'Homme Blessé (“The Wounded Man”) (France) 1983. Directed by Patrice Chéreau. Track: 'Heart Love' from New Grass. Trailer on youtube.
4. Hey Paris (New Zealand) 1988. Directed by Gregor Nicholas. A short film featuring Douglas Wright’s dance piece which used an Ayler track from the Relyable LP, The Berlin Concerts - 1966. There’s a short extract on youtube.
5. Who Needs a Heart (UK/Germany) 1991. Directed by John Akomfrah. Track: ‘Vibrations’.
6. Eureka (Japan) 2000. Directed by Shinji Aoyama. Track: ‘Ghosts, first variation’, from Prophecy.
7. Six Cents in the Pocket (USA) 2015. Directed by Ricky D’Ambrose. Track: ‘Holy Ghost’ from Live In Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings.
8. Lightningface (USA) 2016. Directed by Brian Petsos. Track: ‘Our Prayer’from Live In Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings.
9. The Party (UK) 2017. Directed by Sally Potter. Track: ‘Summertime’ from My Name Is Albert Ayler.
10. Passages (France) 2023. Directed by Ira Sachs. “The music is an off-beat mix, ranging from an English a capella folk song by Janet Penfold to a blast of Albert Ayler’s free-jazz take on the ‘Marseillaise’. The latter accompanies one character’s breakneck bike ride through Paris, bringing a final Nouvelle Vague flourish to a film that wears its borrowed Frenchness with seductive grace and panache.” (Screendaily review by Jonathan Romney).)
Ayler made several appearances on TV during his career. Unfortunately this was in the days before video recorders and most of the TV companies involved did not preserve the original tapes, so most of the footage has been lost.
1. 1962 (poss. 16/11) TV-Byen: Copenhagen, Denmark. Cecil Taylor Quartet. Soundtrack survives and is included on Holy Ghost.
2. 1966 (3/11) Berlin Jazz Festival. Albert Ayler Quintet. Ayler’s complete 30 minute set has survived on video but has never been released commercially, However, a brief excerpt is included in My Name Is Albert Ayler. The soundtrack has appeared in various incarnations and is currently (2022) available with other recordings from the 1966 European Tour on Albert Ayler Quintet 1966: Berlin, Lörrach, Paris & Stockholm. Revisited Hat Hut (Switzerland) ezz-thetics 2-1117. According to the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv Frankfurt, the Berlin concert was broadcast on German TV on these dates:
“Studio III - Jazz-Tage Berlin 1966”. Date of transmission: 11/11/66. TV company: SFB (Sender Freies Berlin). “Proszenium - Eröffnungskonzert der Berliner Jazztage 1966”. Date of transmission: 27/1/67.TV Company: WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk). “Jazz und Folklore - Aufnahmen von den Berliner Jazztagen 1966/67”.Date of transmission: 29/9/68. WDR.”
In March, 2016 Dirk Goedeking acquired a copy of the Berlin TV recording and sent me the following information. I should point out that although the DVD is technically available, it is strictly for private use only (i.e. it cannot be copied or distributed via youtube, etc. without incurring punitive charges).
00:00 Introduction to the evening
02:40 Introduction to Boris Blacher
04:15 Boris Blacher - Improvisationen über Plus Minus Eins
13:55 Introduction to Alexander von Schlippenbach
16:30 Alexander von Schlippenbach - Globe Unity
37:05 Introduction to Albert Ayler announcing "Ghosts Theme, Bells, Jesus and Our Prayer"
40:45 Ghosts / Bells (42:28)
52:18 Truth is marching in
63:53 Our Prayer (Truth is marching in 66:40)
It contains the whole concert without any cuts. There is no text or any further information given. Of course it's a mono 4:3 black/white recording, but in good quality.
The price of 49 Euros is high. But a single copy is made from their archive.”
I should point out again that this was in 2016, so the price will probably be higher now, if, in fact the company is still prepared to provide individual copies in this manner. I do know that a second copy was acquired in this way.
3. 1966 (prob. 4,5 or 6/11) SWF Television Studio, Munich, Germany. Albert Ayler Quintet. According to the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv Frankfurt this was broadcast on WDR under the title “Musik ‘Zur Nacht’ - Das Albert Ayler Quintett” on two occasions, in November, 1966 and then on 9th August, 1967. I should add here that although this information was on this site for a number of years, the connection with the Munich TV studio session was not made until 2022 (mea culpa). In September of that year I received an email from Fabian Manco concering the Tom Surgal documentary, Fire Music. He attached the Ayler section from the film and asked if I knew where the footage of Ayler came from. Checking it against Berlin and Bordeaux it was apparent it was from neither, which meant it was almost definitely the Munich TV studio footage. Dirk Goedeking was on the case again and discovered the following:
“WDR didn't supply further information, but the video is accessible for the public. The archive gives it to editors, schools, museums, ... and ‘Privatpersonen’. It can be ordered with different legal options. I tried to order it, paying 29 € for private use in one private household. Suprisingly it worked. After three weeks I got a huge 969668 KB mp4 video file (VCL) download:
By phone +49-221-2035-1133 (Mo 13-15h, Th 14-16h) , or by mail email@example.com.”
4. 1966 (14/11) Sigma Festival, Bordeaux, France. Albert Ayler Quintet. A six minute performance by the Ayler group was included in a TV programme ("Carte blanche à”) about the festival which was broadcast in France on 28th November, 1966. The programme has survived and is in the archives of the I.N.A. in Paris. A bootleg version of the Ayler section is in circulation among private collectors. The full description of the original programme from the I.N.A. is as follows:
“Titre propre : Nicolas Schöffer Titre émission : Carte blanche à Générique et auteurs : Réalisateur, Tarta, Alexandre ; Interprète, Ayler, Albert (saxophone) Descripteurs : Chaban Delmas, Jacques Date de diffusion : 28/11/1966 Durée : 00H 27MIN 12SEC Résumé / Description de l'extrait : - Spectacle organisé dans le cadre de la semaine d'action culturelle de Bordeaux, avec la Compagnie de danse contemporaine - Festival SIGMA, concert du groupe d'Albert AYLER (avec son frère Donald AYLER) qui joue "Ghosts" + applaudissements du public et Jacques CHABAN DELMAS en tribune - Le ballet de mobiles SARAPARDO - Personnages parlant, "c'était une grande étendue" avec des vagues derrière autour de leur personne - Orchestre - Ballet compagnie contemporaine SAKAPARDO - Le tout accompagné de bruits insolites et de décors mobiles - Jeux de lumières et intensité de son. Œuvres : - Le saxophoniste Albert AYLER interprète avec son groupe "Ghosts" Informations de classement Notice : CPF86618553 Type d'archive : Archive non thématisée Type d'émission : Production Type de notice : Notice isolée Genre : Spectacle TV Thématique : Variétés Date de modification : 20/12/2012 Informations de production Producteurs : Producteur ou co-producteur, Paris : Office national de radiodiffusion télévision française (ORTF), 1966 Nature de production : Production propre Informations de diffusion Date de diffusion : 28/11/1966 Société de programmes : Office Radio Télévision France Canal de diffusion : 2eme chaîne Collection : RTF / ORTF Informations techniques Statut du matériel : Numérisé ”
A brief (90 second) clip of the Ayler footage was used in a programme (De Canvasconnectie) about the American folk singer, Sam Amidon, which was broadcast in Belgium on 30th March, 2014 (with repeats on 31st March and 5th April).
5. 1966 (15/11) BBC, UK. Recorded at the London School of Economics for BBC2’s “Jazz Goes To College” series, the concert was never broadcast and the tapes were later wiped.
6. 1968 (9/3) The Ayler group’s appearance at the ‘Second Buffalo Festival of the Arts Today’ at the Albright-Knox Auditorium, Buffalo, N.Y., was filmed for a documentary on the festival to be broadcast on the Public Broadcast Laboratory, which was a weekly two-hour programme on Channel 13, shown on Sunday evenings. The programme was broadcast on 21st April, 1968 with the title, “Who’s Afraid of the Avant-Garde?” Full details of the programme are available on the website of the Paley Center for the Media, which implies that it still exists in their collection, however the Ayler group did not appear in the programme (although there is a performance by Cecil Taylor). Whether the unused footage of Ayler still exists is not known, but it is very doubtful.
“Studio III - Jazz-Tage Berlin 1966”. Date of transmission: 11/11/66. TV company: SFB (Sender Freies Berlin). “Proszenium - Eröffnungskonzert der Berliner Jazztage 1966”. Date of transmission: 27/1/67.TV Company: WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk). “Jazz und Folklore - Aufnahmen von den Berliner Jazztagen 1966/67”.Date of transmission: 29/9/68. WDR. “Musik ‘Zur Nacht’ - Das Albert Ayler Quintett”. Date of transmission: ?/11/66. WDR. “Musik ‘Zur Nacht’ - Das Albert Ayler Quintett”. Date of transmission: 9/8/67. WDR.
The only other sighting of Ayler video footage occurred in a discussion programme about the state of jazz entitled "Jazz is niet dood", broadcast in the Netherlands on 15th July 1970, by ‘AVRO-tv via Nederland 2’. The origin of this video footage is unknown but the audio is available here.]
My Name Is Albert Ayler. Part 1: Spiritual Unity. Produced by Daniel Caux. Originally broadcast on the France Culture channel on 28th November 1971. Approximate running time: 2:50:00
My Name Is Albert Ayler. Part 2: Love Cry. Produced by Daniel Caux. Originally broadcast on the France Culture channel on 5th December 1971. Approximate running time: 2:50:00
Over the years there must have been countless radio programmes devoted to Albert Ayler. Too many to try and track down and list here - but this one is worth mentioning. Broadcast in France on the first anniversary of Albert’s death, it was produced by Daniel Caux, who had organised Ayler’s final concerts in France at the Fondation Maeght. As well as Ayler’s music and Daniel Caux’s own interview with Ayler, it includes interviews with several musicians (Alan Silva, Sunny Murray, John Tchicai, Don Cherry, Milford Graves, Beaver Harris, Allen Blairman, Leroy Jenkins) who had played with Ayler and others (Archie Shepp, Bernard Stollman, Moki Cherry) who had known him. The fact that the France Culture channel devoted well over 5 hours to the subject of Albert Ayler in 1971 is an indication of how highly he was regarded in France and is a testament to the dedication of Daniel Caux and his associates. The programme is also important because, coming so soon after Albert’s sudden passing, it documents some of the early responses to that event.
The two parts of the programme are currently available on the France Culture site: