1. Spirits (Ayler) (6:35)
2. Witches And Devils (Howard) (11:55)
3. Holy Holy (Ayler) (11:00)
4. Saints (Ayler) (6:05)
Albert Ayler (tenor saxophone)
Norman Howard (trumpet)
Henry Grimes (bass [tracks 1,2,4])
Earle Henderson (bass [tracks 1,3])
Sunny Murray (drums)
February 24, 1964
Atlantic Studios, New York
Released as Spirits or Witches and Devils on Debut (Denmark) Deb 146, Transatlantic (UK) TRA130, Polydor (UK) 2383.089, Freedom (France) FLP40101, (Germany) 28.424, (Japan) PA7030, Arista/Freedom (US) AL1018, Black Lion (Europe) 65601, Freedom (UK) FLP 41018, Dischi Ricordi (Italy) Jazz Idea series (Freedom FLP40101), King Records (Japan) K18P-9386, Freedom FCD-741018 (1990 CD release), Tokuma (Japan) TKCB-71264, 1201 Music (1999 24 bit remastered CD release), Breathless (Italy) Breath 52006 (2005 release as Spirits) and Klimt Records (France) MJJ317LP (2011 vinyl release as Spirits).
Mothers and Children was a double LP set of Ghosts and Spirits on Carrere (France) 65601, Black Lion (Europe) 65601.
In August, 2019 Hat Hut Records (Switzerland) released a CD of Spirits and Ghosts as Albert Ayler Quartets 1964 Spirits To Ghosts Revisited ezz-thetics 1101. The track listing for Spirits differed on this release: 1. Spirits (6:33) 2. Prophecy (6:11) (previously Saints) 3. Holy, Holy (11:09) 4. Witches And Devils (12:05). (See Sean Wilkie’s piece on the retitling of ‘Saints’ on the Spirits Covers page.) March 2020 saw the release of a 4 CD boxset: Albert Ayler: The Early Albums Collection on the Enlightenment label, EN4CD9178, which included a copy of Spirits.
The positions of first two tracks, ‘Spirits’ and ‘Witches and Devils’ were swopped on various releases, depending on the titles of the albums. ‘Witches and Devils’ is credited to Albert Ayler, but was in fact written by Norman Howard.
From the sleevenotes
“Ayler was intrigued by the characteristic sound produced by his instrument and he told Robert Osterman of The National Observer that ‘You have really to play your instrument to escape from notes to sound. You really have to play. No kidding around.’”
Barry McRae (from the sleevenotes of the Polydor release)
Next: Swing Low Sweet Spiritual