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August 1 2021
Juini Booth (12/2/1948 - 11/7/2021)
Arthur Edward Booth, bass player with several notable bands, including the Sun Ra Arkestra and Tony Williams’ Lifetime, has died aged 73. A man of several names, one of which was in these pages for one performance with Albert Ayler, a performance which was filmed by the famous documentarians, D. A. Pennebaker and Richard Leacock, at the Albright-Knox Auditorium in Buffalo, N.Y. on 9th March, 1968. It was filmed for a television documentary, ‘Who’s Afraid of the Avant-Garde?’ which was broadcast on 21st April, 1968, but, unfortunately, the Ayler footage did not make the cut. There’s a brief obituary of ‘Junie’ Booth on the Pitchfork site, and further information on wikipedia. He was born in Buffalo, which perhaps explains why he was part of the Ayler group on that one occasion, and there may be more information at the Buffalo News, which, at the moment, is blocked to European browsers (?). I have to thank Kees Hazevoet for letting me know about Mr. Booth’s passing.
Istanbul not Constantinople
Coincidentally it was Kees Hazevoet who kicked off a search for information about Ayler’s Buffalo gig back in February, 2012. A couple of years later, November, 2014, there was a follow-up item about the extensive film archives of D. A. Pennebaker and a possible search for the missing Ayler footage. And the rest is silence. There are items which we know exist, such as the Fondation Maeght documentary, but which we are not allowed to see. And then there are items like the TV programmes from Buffalo and the London School of Economics, which are, effectively, lost. But that does not stop the speculation and I’m sure there are still people out there who can’t believe that the State Broadcaster with ruthless efficiency taped over Ayler’s only performance in Britain with an episode of Terry and June where presumably Terry did something wrong and June found out about it and hilarity ensued. Which brings us to this:
Early last month Johann Haidenbauer emailed with a link to the Radio Jazz Copenhagen site which includes a large amount of material (345 hours worth in fact), among which are some programmes about the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, including extracts from the one in November, 1966. Skip down the page and you’ll find ‘Historien om Copenhagen Jazz Festival #1, Ole Matthiessen’, which is described thus (translated by google):
“The story of Copenhagen Jazz Festival 1: 2 Ole Matthiessen talks about the start of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, which took place one autumn weekend with the participation of a large number of American stars. From the years 1964 - 68 there are recordings with Pee Wee Russell, Miles Davis, George Russell, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen Sextet, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Lennie Tristano, Stan Getz with Gary Burton, Willie the Lion Smith, Albert Ayler, Thelonious Monk, Sarah Vaughan, George Benson, Gary Burton Group, Horace Silver, Muddy Waters, Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Band, Max Roach and Elvin Jones Trio.”
Around the 1:31:00 mark, to 1:41:45, you’ll find an extract of an Albert Ayler live performance. One assumes from the Copenhagen Festival, recorded at the Tivolis Koncertsal, Copenhagen, Denmark on 11th November, 1966 and broadcast on Danish radio. Except it isn’t. At least it is not part of the ‘Copenhagen Concert’ which is on this site. At which point you start to think, ‘Is this something new? Perhaps a lost tune from Copenhagen?’ At which point I thought I’d better check the Stockholm concert of the day before, and there was the tune, ‘Omega Is The Alpha’, and a similar running time. To my ears (rather, ear) the two tracks sounded the same, but I don’t trust my ear, so I consulted an expert, Dikko Faust in New York. He couldn’t be certain they were the same, but did provide this rundown of the two ‘Omegas’:
0'00 A theme 0'52 B theme & coda 2'13 A theme fast 2'31 AA+MS 2'41 AA 3'36 DA 5'00 MS 6'57 BH 8'50 all 9'04 BF (announced at the beginning as Lewis Worrell!) 9'59 all 10'41 end
0'00 A theme 0'52 B theme & coda 2'11 A theme fast 2'26 AA+MS 2'40 AA 3'34 DA 4'57 MS 6'54 BH 8'02 all 9'00 BF 9'55 all 10'46 end”
Which I thought was pretty conclusive in itself, given the closeness of the timings, but Dikko wanted a second opinion and so we passed it on to Sean Wilkie in Wales. He replied with this:
“Wow! What an amazing performance of Omega Is The Alpha. This may be the gold standard for me going forward.
Patrick, you’re correct. It certainly is the same performance – on the Radio Programme - as the Stockholm version I have on the ‘old’ Hat hut Stockholm / Berlin (single) CD.
There’s some sonic reproduction difference which a better bluffer than I would describe as higher ends and lower frequencies. I compared them by listening through a few seconds at a time before repeating those seconds on the other version. I’d compare it to finding 32 specific matches on two very similar fingerprints.
The hardest bit was Beaver Harris’ spot where the difference between the sound of the two ‘versions’ (Dolby off vs Bias Boost??) made me momentarily doubt the force of the previous 25 matches on the two ‘prints’. But I managed to match Beaver as well, once my ears caught on. (Apologies for all these forensic police work metaphors).
There’s also the double-tap? microphone bumping? at 0.51 on the CD version (ca. 1.31.50 on the radio show) and a couple of other anomalous sounds that match up.
PS Perhaps the radio broadcast better emphasises Samson, so higher frequencies up (Dolby off)? What a solo by him, what a beautiful handover to Harris …”
Right, so I’m happy, but Johann still isn’t. How did an extract from the Stockholm concert end up in a programme about the Copenhagen Festival? Now I’ve seen The Bridge so I’m not surprised at this cross-pollination of jazz recordings in Scandinavia, especially since a programme about the Stockholm concert was shown on Danish TV on two occasions, 9th January and 6th February, 1967.
Ultimately we are in the hands of the Archivists, and sometimes mistakes are made and what is recorded in Stockholm is labelled Copenhagen. To which Johann replies, (I paraphrase), “But what evidence is there that what has been released as the Stockholm concert, was actually recorded in Stockholm.” We are reduced to quoting Yeats: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
Back on safer ground. Hathut have released their version of New York Eye And Ear Control (New York Eye And Ear Control, Revisited). The Walking Woman is relegated to a cameo and this release is firmly branded as an Albert Ayler album. Chronologically it was the second of the trilogy of great collective improvisations of Free Jazz, preceded by Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz (recorded December, 1960) and followed by John Coltrane’s Ascension (recorded June, 1965), New York Eye And Ear Control was recorded in the home of Paul Haines on 17th July, 1964. Click the picture below for further details of the latest release.
Michael Snow’s New York Eye And Ear Control is still available on youtube. And there’s a new biography of John Tchicai by Margriet Naber, John Tchicai: A Chaos With Some Kind Of Order, which is previewed in The Wire.
Last December there was a piece about Yusuf Mumin and the Cleveland avant-garde, linked to an article (and playlist) on the Wire site. In his essay Yusuf Mumin mentioned the following:
‘Before I heard Albert Ayler play in person, his dad Edward Ayler, a longtime friend of my family, had brought my mother a copy of Albert’s album Bells. Albert was not around town much, he was in New York or Europe. I in fact only saw him once, in a Cleveland concert he held at WHK Auditorium in February 1967.
One afternoon, around 2009, during a conversation with Albert’s father at his home, I brought up the subject of working with some of the ideals that Albert was exploring. He wanted to know if I was playing outside, so I gave him a copy of recordings I had made in memory of Albert in the 1980s - the only time I’ve recorded with another artist in mind. I wanted Mr Ayler to know that his son was appreciated. Sketches Of The Invisible will contain this music.
A great Poet by the name of Kahlil Gibran once stated that “you could see liquor but what’s hidden is its spirit”. So it is with music. You could hear music but what’s hidden is the spirit. It cannot be seen, but you can react to it. The same applies to the spirit animating the human body. There is dark music, and then there’s dark music with a light at the end of the tunnel. Albert’s life ended as darkness upon the face of the deep. The East River, where his body was found in 1970, became the express purpose in creating the composition “Albert’s Cry In The Wilderness” on the upcoming release.’
Pierre Crépon let me know that the recordings referred to above are now available on bandcamp.
Pierre has also reviewed the album for the current issue of The New York City Jazz Record, which is available for free download here. Pierre’s review is on page 20.
Stories / The link between music, illness and therapy through albums, books and comics. From “Music is the Healing Force of the Universe”, the album by Albert Ayler, to the beneficial virus of “Mumbo Jumbo”, the visionary novel by Ishmael Reed. Watch out for “Abbott”, a graphic novel whose protagonist, an investigative journalist, soothes the pain of her partner's death with the art of John Coltrane.’
“This summer, Ars Nova Workshop, The Woodlands, and Spirits Up! will host a series of free outdoor yoga and mindfulness sessions paired with live music. We will mold mindfulness, meditation, and movement into each of these sessions while paying homage to many of the foundational forces in Black Liberation Music, such as Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler, and John Coltrane.”
And there’s an article by Peter Crimmins, ‘Meditation for liberation in a West Philly cemetery’, at WHYY.
To counter all this healthy mindfulness, Dirk also sent this:
Steve Tintweiss writes...
“All About Jazz” podcast included two tracks from “MarksTown” The Purple Why 1968 at St Mark”s Church Biafra Benefit concert. It features a Mark Whitecage tenor sax solo on Ramona I Love You, and rare trumpet work by James DuBoise. Bassist Steve Tintweiss sings How Sweet? with Judy Stuart backup vocals and Laurence Cook on drums. IDM003 on new INKY DoT MEDIA label also includes a set from Town Hall a month later with baritone saxophonist Trevor Koehler and singer Amy Sheffer added to the ensemble.
Meanwhile, Richard Koloda asks “if anyone has a clue as to the age of Mary Parks?”
Kees Hazevoet sent a link to a site which then links to My Name Is Albert Ayler on youtube.
And Dirk Goedeking sent a link to an illustrated review by Chris Fischer of the Holy Ghost box set, which is rather odd. Here’s a sample:
With the Olympics in full swing we are reminded yet again of how exceptionally turgid and downright depressing is the national anthem of ‘Great’ Britain. I think that all sportspeople fortunate enough to win a gold medal should be allowed to nominate La Marseillaise as their anthem of choice to be played while they stand on the podium. There’s a celebration of La Marseillaise here, which has Albert Ayler’s version at No. 2. And here’s a particularly rousing version: