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Old 02-21-2011, 01:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Albert Ayler

Seeing as I love this man's work enough to dedicate a signature quote to him, I figured I'd do this up:

A free jazz saxophonist to some, a transcendent master of fusing spirituality with music to others (namely me). People go on and on about how 'Trane is the epitome of soulful sax; A Love Supreme this, Ascension that... I won't argue. I love both those records, believe me I do, but Ayler is a completely different kind of spiritual guide. He takes kind, gentle, hummable melodies, distorts and stretches them to their breaking point, and then flies off his hinges with whatever ensemble he's relying on and goes nuts. His formula would be easy to imitate if he didn't have such a perfect sax sound. Using a thick plastic reed to give his tone a harsh resonance, and having a perfect sense of when to erupt and when to squeak softly (to show fragility), he created a unique sound that immediately captured your attention and sealed the deal. His trio work realized what is basically my favorite jazz album of any kind at the moment, and likely will stay that way for quite some time, Spiritual Unity. It's part of the free jazz canon by now, so many of you may have heard of it, but if you haven't, I can't recommend it enough. Abrasive and anarchic, yet simultaneously fragile and uplifting.

Ayler was supported and admired by many of his contemporaries, including the mighty 'Trane. His legacy is a tragic one; he committed suicide in 1970.

A beautiful duet between Al and the piano:



My initial fascination began here:



Getting the Holy Ghost boxset is virtually what I've been saving up for for quite some time. Thanks to this man, I'll remember for the rest of my life that if people don't like it now, they will.



Oh, and he looks like a gym teacher sometimes. Cheers.
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Old 02-21-2011, 06:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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One album by him that doesn't get a lot of attention but I really love is Goin Home.

Ayler is one of the most important musicians in my life. Not only was he influenced by Coltrane but Coltrane was influenced by Ayler as well. I think it speaks well of both musicians. That Coltrane, despite being the master, was always looking to stretch out farther into the universe. And that he found that in the much younger Ayler. It's incredible. But when you listen to those Ayler records you can see why. At the core are the most beautiful melodies and he injects this energy into them that seems to come from the cores of stars from distant galaxies.
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Old 03-28-2019, 04:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Over the past couple years it seems to me there’s been a considerable uptick in the number of releases on Bandcamp that are tributes and/or interpretations or covers of the work of Ayler. At first, I was drawn to it but recently I’m more likely to choose something else unless I’m already familiar with the musicians.

It’s kind of like like 25 years ago tribute albums were almost always pretty cool. Then it became a common way for mediocre bands to dick ride a bigger name. Maybe it’s always been that way.

Jazz musicians are always going to play standards and what’s a standard changes over time

I guess when I’m picking out new stuff to listen to I want like only a couple of standards per release.

Any thoughts?
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