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March 1 2021
I did a quick update of the site when I heard of Milford Graves’ death on February 12th, but there’s a lot more online now in the way of obituaries and tributes. Richard Williams has a piece in The Guardian and there are obituaries at The New York Times and Black Star News. There is, of course, a wealth of Milford Graves’ material on youtube, but I was particularly taken by this brief compilation of more informal film clips assembled by Charlie Steiner, and introduced thus:
“I met Milford Graves (who passed away Feb. 2021)) a few times while documenting the work of dancer-farmer Min Tanaka. This video has a few clips I shot, mostly in 1988. He was known as a jazz/avant-garde percussionist but spent most of his time as an herbalist-healer, martial arts instructor and was on the faculty at Bennington College for 39 years. He was full of joy and lived what he preached about the relationship between a strong body and a strong mind. The last time I saw Milford was not that long ago, improvising with Lou Reed, John Zorn and Terry Riley in NY. It was beyond amazing with powerful performers all around, but clearly Milford was the leading energy force.”
Bobby Few passed away on 6th January and there is a terrific tribute on the Jazz Hot site featuring an extensive biography, discography, videography and a section of tributes from Bobby Few’s fellow musicians, including his fellow band member from the Music Is The Healing Force and Last Album sessions, Stafford James. I have to thank Mathieu Perez for letting me know about this and sending the link. It’s a great piece of work.
[On a technical note - I use Google Chrome which translates foreign language sites, but if you don’t, then there’s a button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page to select which language suits you.]
Ayler’s 1966 European Tour
Hat Hut has reissued Stockholm, Berlin 1966 (hatOLOGY 717) and Lörrach/Paris 1966 (hatOLOGY 573 - originally HatMUSICS 3500, released in 1982) as Albert Ayler Quintet 1966: Berlin, Lörrach, Paris & Stockholm. Revisited. There’s been a slight title change since last November when I previewed this - then it was ‘Albert Ayler Quintet European Live Recordings 1966 Berlin, Lörrach, Paris & Stockholm’.
Dirk Goedeking sent me a link to the page on the Soundohm site with a review by Brian Olewnick, and since he also gets a credit for the liner notes in the picture above, Dirk opined that this could be them.
No sign yet of a release date for Hat Hut’s Fondation Maeght material, but Dirk spotted the mirror image photo for that cover on the Swiss magazine JAZZ 'N' MORE site:
Impulse! at 60
More reissues from Impulse! Records, including a 60th anniversary 4 LP or double CD box set entitled Impulse Records: Music, Message and the Moment.
Side B 1. Max Roach — Garvey’s Ghost 2. Quincy Jones and his Orchestra — Hard Sock Dance 3. John Coltrane — Up ‘Gainst the Wall 4. Elvin Jones/Jimmy Garrison Sextet — Just Us Blues
Side C 1. John Coltrane — Alabama 2. Charles Mingus — Better Get Hit in Yo’ Soul 3. Shirley Scott Trio — Freedom Dance 4. Yusef Lateef — Sister Mamie
Side D 1. Archie Shepp — Malcolm, Malcolm—Semper Malcolm 2. Stanley Turrentine — Good Lookin’ Out 3. Earl Hines — Black and Tan Fantasy 4. Oliver Nelson — The Rights of All
Side E 1. Pharoah Sanders — The Creator Has a Master Plan (edit) 2. John Coltrane & Alice Coltrane — Reverend King
Side F 1. The Ahmad Jamal Trio — The Awakening 2. Albert Ayler — Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe 3. Charlie Haden — We Shall Overcome
Side G 1. Alice Coltrane — Blue Nile 2. Pharoah Sanders — Astral Traveling 3. Archie Shepp — Blues for Brother George Jackson 4. Michael White — Lament (Mankind)
Side H 1. Dewey Redman — Imani 2. Marion Brown — Bismillahi ‘Rrahmani ‘Rrahim 3. John Handy — Hard Work
The set is due to be released in May and there’s more information of other new releases at Pitchfork.
I also came across several reissues of Ayler albums on amazon which seem to be connected to the Impulse! 60th anniversary, but originating from Japan and available on the SHM-CD (Super High Material CD) format.
Of course this isn’t the first time there’s been a celebration of Impulse! Records. There was one back in 2006, when they did the ‘The House That Trane Built’ compilation and released ‘The Impulse Story’ CDs for various musicians, including Albert Ayler. There was also a book by Ashley Kahn (The House That Trane Built: The Story Of Impulse Records) - which was very much a warts and all story, not the hagiography one would expect - which featured the following pages about Ayler’s connection with the label, highlighting the album Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe.
Live Music - perhaps
Dirk Goedeking let me know about a couple of possible live concerts planned for after the zombie apocalypse. Mars “Ayler Xmas” Williams (with Jaimie Branch tp) wants to play on 20th December 2021 at Kulturkammer in Magdeburg, Germany. And it looks like we haven’t heard the last of ‘Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe’ if this ad for the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee is anything to go by.
Well, Albert played the bagpipes, so I’m not going to apologise for adding this. That link to the Big Ears Festival twitter feed brought up a photo of two people in dark glasses looking cool next to a photo of them playing cello and drums. Sufficiently intrigued by the line-up I sought them out on youtube and here’s NINETEEN THIRTEEN playing ‘Bagpipes’.
Sticking with youtube
One of those rumours I used to chase was that Albert Ayler played at the ‘World Festival of Youth and Students for Peace and Friendship’ in Helsinki in 1962 - he didn’t, but the Bill Dixon / Archie Shepp Quintet did and their half hour concert is now on youtube. As is that brief clip from the Fondation Maeght film which appeared last June linked to the Fondation Maeght Newsletter.
And here’s a lively rendition of that old favourite ‘Ghosts’ by Sober Head:
The Impulse! 60th anniversary has thrown up ‘Bells’ from Love Cry. And then there’s this:
And finally ... you’re wrong Mr. Getty
There’s somebody in Australia who’s peddling photos of Albert and Don Ayler on ebay. These are all lifted from other sites and I’m not here to judge, but one did catch my eye and I thought I should mention it since this is how rumours start. It’s a colour shot of Don Ayler, which is described as “trumpeter Donald Ayler performs on the 'Jazz 625' TV show 1964 OLD MUSIC PHOTO”. Of course, Don Ayler (or Albert for that matter) never performed on ‘Jazz 625’ which was shown in the UK from 1964 before giving way to ‘Jazz Goes To College’ (which recorded the Ayler band at the L.S.E. in 1966 and then refused to show it). Since a lot of the colour photos of Albert and Don are by David Redfern, it was easy enough to trace the original, and lo and behold it’s part of the vast collection of Getty Images - which explains why I’m not posting the picture here. However, what is annoying is that the description attached to the photo (price £375) on the Getty Images site is as follows:
“Donald Ayler Performs On Tv Show
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: American trumpeter Donald Ayler performs on the 'Jazz 625' BBC television show in 1964. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)’.
February 14 2021
Milford Graves (20/8/1941 - 12/2/2021)
Milford Graves, one of the pioneering drummers of Free Jazz, has died. He recorded just one album with Albert Ayler, Love Cry, but also played in the band which performed at the Newport Jazz Festival in the summer of 1967, and accompanied him at the funeral of John Coltrane.
Bobby Few, a childhood friend of Albert Ayler, who played piano on the sessions which produced Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe and The Last Album, sadly died in Paris on 6th January, at the age of 85. Back in the summer of 2019 Pierre Crépon wrote an article about Bobby Few for the Wire Playlist feature, mentioned in these pages and still available online. Pierre has now added an obituary to the Wire and he also recommended David Grundy’s piece on the Streams of Expression blogspot.
Here’s ‘Water Music’ from The Last Album, and this is the Bobby Few Trio in Paris on 11th April, 2008:
New Book From Japan
Dirk Goedeking spotted this new Japanese book, AA - Albert Ayler Fifty Years Later, which was published at the end of last month. Although it may be a bit excessive, I thought I should include the whole of the book’s description from the publisher’s website. Translated by google of course - I haven’t been spending my lockdown time constructively by learning Japanese, although I did spend the last week watching a 13 hour French film. There was a time when one would have to point out the accidental felicities in electronic translations (there must a word for that) but things have improved immensely - although I do quite like ‘a mysterious water corpse’. The other reason for listing all this and not just providing a link is that given the poor record of English translations of foreign books about Albert Ayler, I don’t hold out much hope for AA - Albert Ayler Fifty Years Later making it into your local Waterstones any time soon.
“AA Fifty years later Albert Ayler Editor Shigetsugu Hosoda Binding / Typesetting Yoshihide Tanaka made by Shirokuban: 512 pages Publication date: Late January 2021 Body price: 3,800 yen (+ tax) ISBN: 978-4-910065 -04-5
Half a century since the discovery of the corpse on the East River in New York—a definitive book that reveals the charm of the still mysterious genius musician Albert Ayler!
Albert Ayler, a legendary free jazz artist who died at the age of 34. From the perspective of the 2020s, we will reveal the whole picture of Ayler, who continues to have a great influence across genres, from jazz, rock, funk, R & B, calypso, folk songs, noise, improvisation, contemporary music, to movies and literature. The first book in Japan has been completed.
A total of more than 30 musicians / critics / researchers have considered in-depth music analysis, reexamination of existing criticism and journalism, or multifaceted issues that extend to society, culture, politics, and religion. Includes "text to be read now". In addition to the first Japanese translation of Ayler's interview, Ayler's disc introduction, post-Ayler music disc guide, Ayler's chronology, all discography, and maniac poop on the mysterious ESP board, more than 500 pages. Super dense content!
"Rethinking Ayler now is not about re-evaluating the 'great man' in its greatness, but rather about the very familiar question of how we can live better."——From the preface
"I once released an interview movie called 'AA'. The title meant “Akira Aida". It's not that there wasn't a hesitation for a while. Speaking of "AA", isn't it "Albert Ayler"? The awe of the innocent abuse of double-initial magic congratulates us on the further "one and many" with this book that is still emerging."——Shinji Aoyama (Film director)
List of authors imdkm / Yoshio Otani / Yoshihide Otomo / Minoru Onishi / Naruyoshi Kikuchi / Haruka Kudo / Masayo Goto / Masahiro Goto / Mamoru Goto / Satoshi Saito / Yuri Sakuma / Atsushi Sasaki / Kenichi Takeda / Yohei Nagato / Mitsutaka Yanagi / Nara Mariko / Reima Hasumi / Masaaki Hara / Keiichi Fukushima / Jazz tuned in charge / Daisuke Fuwa / Shigetsugu Hosoda / Masato Matsumura / Koji Murai / Kaho Yamazaki / Hikaru Yamada / Kazue Yokoi / Ami Yoshida / Noko Yoshida / Yoshida Ryuichi / Hidezumi Yoshimoto / Miho Watanabe
Table of contents:
I The real image of Albert Ayler? Albert Ayler talks —— Tenor mystic with a direct hotline to heaven Interview / text = Valerie Wilmer translation = Haruka Kudo ——The truth is marching Interview / text = Nat Translated by Hentoff = Haruka Kudo ——Letter to Leroi Jones Translation = Haruka Kudo ——Twelve Hours with Albert Ayler Interview / Text = Noriyoshi Koyama Albert Ayler Main Disc Guide Mitsutaka Yanagi Kaoru Hosoda
II Context maintenance / reconsideration Dating talk Redefining free jazz or listening to individual music Masahiro Goto Koji Murai Mitsutaka Yanagi Interview / text = Shigetsugu Hosoda Note = Kaho Yamazaki Universal folk song Kenichi Takeda Ghosts in the shape of a nebula——Albert Ayler's formation and sideman Masato Matsumura Inheritance of forgiveness of abstraction——American modern society and the destination of avant-garde music Reima Hasumi How does Ayler speak in the English-speaking world? Have you been? —Reading overseas jazz criticism Minoru Onishi [Column] Basic literature for learning about Albert Ayler
III Music Analysis Dialogue A man who went to space, or a person who bridges modernism and hippie culture Naruyoshi Kikuchi Yoshio Otani Interview / text = Shigetsugu Hosoda Note = Kaho Yamazaki About Albert Ayler's musical hybridity —— Authenticity that appears in various variations of <Ghosts> Masaaki Hara Listen to Ayler as a calypso —— “Special sound” that includes the fundamental Caribbeanness “Special sound” Hidezumi Yoshimoto Where is Albert Ayler's “home”? ?? —— <Ghosts> as a fake folk song Miho Watanabe Albert Ayler's technique —— Performance analysis: Characteristics as a saxophonist Ryuichi Yoshida “New Grass” as a sampling source Hikaru Yamada [Column] As sheet music Albert Ayler
IV Acceptance and spread A tribute to Albert Ayler——Answer from Europe Kazue Yokoi Interview Possibility of free music that emerges in “Spiritual Unity” Daisuke Fuwa Interview / text = Shigetsugu Hosoda Note = Kaho Yamazaki Once upon a time, AA was attracting attention in a magazine called "Swing Journal" --- About the process of acceptance of Albert Ayler in Japanese jazz journalism in the 1960s Shigetsugu Hosoda Interview The trajectory of the jazz cafe "Ayler" --- Explosion Free jazz sound flowing in Ayler Mariko Nara Interview / text = Shigetsugu Hosoda Note = Kaho Yamazaki Ayler is a universal language and a method without a system——Musicians who give tribute Satoshi Saito Post Ayler Music Disc Guide Selection / Sentence = Shigetsugu Hosoda
V Improvisation, noise, film, or politics Interview Music that goes back and forth between songs and noise, going through the middle of human history Yoshihide Otomo Interview / text = Shigetsugu Hosoda Note = Kaho Yamazaki Albert Ayler re-examining from the present age Political and religious nature of --- Yuri Sakuma as a pioneer of jazz during the Black Lives Matter period Recorded / recorded voice and vanacular quilt Keiichi Fukushima Film music by Albert Ayler——“ New York Eye and Yohei Nagato over “Year Control” Freedom from constraints, or constraints toward freedom——Albert Ayler's memorandum of improvisation Shigetsugu Hosoda
VI Development of imagination Ayler said to destroy, Kenji Nakagami wrote Atsushi Sasaki The boy shouted “Jiyuu” and continued to sink. Ami Yoshida Dialogue Music as a prayer, or a tradition of will beyond the life of an individual Masayo Koji Noko Yoshida Interview / text = Shigetsugu Hosoda Note = Kaho Yamazaki Jazz and post-documentary “pop” system—— About "New Grass" imdkm Ayler spirituality——Religious outsider Mamoru Goto [Column] About the documentary film “My Name Is Albert Ayler”
VII Chronicle Ayler Albert Ayler Chronology 1936 — 1970 Created = Shigetsugu Hosoda ALBERT AYLER DISCOGRAPHY Free Jazz Record Interrogation——Index of Recording Dates ——The Truth of Volume 3 ——Spirit Lecture —— Bells Report
Postscript Index Note = Kaho Yamazaki Author Profile
Editor: Shigetsugu Hosoda Born in 1989. Writer / music criticism. Graduated from Waseda University, Faculty of Culture, Media and Society, Department of Literature and Journalism. Started writing activities in 2013. Contributed to "ele-king", "intoxicate", "JazzTokyo", "Jazz The New Chapter", "Eureka", etc. Major articles include "A New Wave of Improvisational Music" and "Towards the Coming'Nonexistence'-From Special Music Thoughts, Experiences at Asian Meeting Festivals". From May 2018, planned / held an event series entitled "Exploring the Horizon of Post-Improvisation" at Kokubunji M's. Twitter @HosodaNarushi
Albert Ayler (1936-1970) Born July 13, 1936 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Recorded the first album "Something Different !!!!!!" in Stockholm, Sweden in 1962. After that, he entered the avant-garde jazz scene in New York and released the masterpiece "Spiritual Unity" from the ESP disc in 1965. The free approach and singing saxophone performance that is not bound by traditional jazz attracts attention. In 1967, signed a contract with the prestigious jazz impulse label and released "In Greenwich Village". Since 1968, he has been developing music close to rock, funk, R & B, etc. with vocalist / composer Mary Maria Parks. Despite pursuing his own free music, on November 25, 1970, he was found floating on the East River in New York as a mysterious water corpse. 34 years old.
"AA Fifty Years Later Albert Ayler" Publication Commemoration
The first book on Albert Ayler in Japan, "AA Albert Ayler Fifty Years Later," will be published by Company at the end of January 2021. To commemorate the publication, we will hold a listening and talk event by the editor, Shigetsugu Hosoda, and the representative of the company, Haruka Kudo. While playing the famous performance of Ayler and touching on its charm, he talks about the production process and behind-the-scenes story of Ayler's book. In addition, "AA Fifty Years Later Albert Ayler" will be sold in advance at the venue. Please come by all means. We ask for the cooperation of "(1) wearing a mask," "(2) alcohol disinfection when visiting," and "(3) ventilation inside the store during breaks."
* The event has a capacity of 15 people and requires advance reservation. If you would like to visit us, please contact us by e-mail at email@example.com with the "visitor name" and "number of people".”
Staying in Japan
for a bit, here’s Ryuichi Yoshida playing In Greenwich Village on the baritone saxophone,
and the Kiyamachi Horns playing ‘New Generation’:
1. “I don’t know time but I see it passing me/ While the trumpets play casually/ Sound like Albert Ayler, like ‘Why these ghosts chasing me?’” is a line from ‘Blak Forrest (feat. Fielded)’ from the album BRASS by Moor Mother & billy woods reviewed on the Bandcamp site.
2. Dirk Goedeking sent me a new version of those old Spot the Ball competitions they used to run in the local paper (maybe they still do) - this is a tiny photo of a large collection of Ayler CDs he spotted on facebook, but he can’t find Prophecy.
3. Also from Dirk, but included here for sentimental rather than Aylerian reasons is this Cecil Taylor concert from November, 1969. I saw the same band (in London rather than Paris) at the Hammersmith Odeon on a bill with Thelonious Monk and Cleo Laine. That was Friday and then on Saturday it was Miles Davis, Mary Lou Williams and Jon Hendricks.
4. And finally...this:
Albert Ayler - ‘The Godfather of Free Jazz’. That’s a new one on me. I’ve always seen him more as a recalcitrant uncle.
January 1 2021
Happy New Year
Well, let’s hope so anyway.
On with the motley.
More stirrings from the Kasper Collin twitter account, spotted by Dirk Goedeking:
“26 Nov. Albert Ayler - OTD 50 years ago Albert Ayler was found dead in East River. He & his music have meant a great deal to me in my life, & in many others. Until today no other music has had the same transformative effect on me. For the last two years I have worked quite hard to prepare the documentary My Name Is Albert Ayler I made between 1998 - 2005 for a proper rerelease. We are close now in making this happen, and I feel confident to be able to give some definitive news about this within the next few months. Someone sent me this recent comment re Ayler from Facebook. It's a recollection from a person named Greg Farr re watching the documentary during its premiere run in NYC in 2007. This comment was well written and touching to read for me, and everything I ever could wish for when making this film. Thank you Greg. And thank you Albert Ayler! ♥ R.I.P.”
Dirk also spotted this 5 part series devoted to Albert Ayler, broadcast from 23rd to 27th November in Italian, on the Swiss radio station, RSI. This is the first episode, and the rest are available here if you scoot down a bit.
And Johann Haidenbauer let me know about a programme about Ayler on the Austrian radio station, Ö1, which is due to be broadcast at 20:55 on Sunday 24th January, in the ‘Ö1 Art Sunday: Milestones’ series:
If you want to continue to drag out the merry season then the two Mars Williams concerts of Ayler tunes and carols, which were live on youtube on 18th and 19th December, are still available. There’s a preview of the concerts on New City Music.
And this is the second one:
I mentioned the Mars Williams concerts in an extra post on 15th December (everything has now been consigned to the lower depths of the Archives Dept.) and there was also an art exhibition featuring work by Rico Gatson at New York’s Miles McEnery Gallery, which closed on 19th December. I came across a short review of the exhibition on The Art Newspaper.
Harold Budd, the composer, has died at the age of 84, and is mentioned here because he did have a brief association with Albert Ayler when they were both in the army. This from the Guardian’s obituary:
‘Born in 1936 to a poor family in Los Angeles, Budd’s first musical love was jazz - “black culture that freed me from the stigmata of going nowhere in a hopeless culture”, he later said -€ and after being drafted into the US army he played as a drummer in a regimental band alongside the saxophonist Albert Ayler, who would also go on to become an icon of avant-garde American music.’
(To tell you the truth I know nothing about Harold Budd’s music - I think because I always confused him with Roy Budd, an English jazz pianist and film composer, who used to turn up on TV variety shows in the 60s - in fact I actually typed ‘Roy’ instead of ‘Harold’ when I started this item. Please forgive my ignorance.)
Steve Tintweiss has conductor and music director credits on this new release on the INKY DoT Media label. Click the picture below for the full story:
This is not new - released in 2016 - but I seem to have missed it. Duets for kora and percussion, the album features versions of ‘Bells’ and ‘Change Has Come’, which, as I’ve said before, is my favourite Ayler tune.