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I was just listening to Pleasant Dreams and I realized the track 7-11 has been renamed Jul 11 presumably in honor of Tommy who died on that date. I didn’t find any mention of it online so I thought I would point it out here.
I’ve been on an information hunt about Ayler’s life today because there’s so much contradictory information online. I found an interview with Ayler on youtube and this information is straight from his mouth.
Ayler was 22 when he joined the army. From Ayler’s description he had a great deal of freedom while in the army. He was stationed in France and practiced tenor sax several hours a day. The way he describes working on his scales reminds me a lot of what I know about Coltrane’s approach. While he was in the Army he actually developed a fan base in Sweden. After he was discharged he lived for a short while in Los Angeles then briefly returned to his hometown of Cleveland before deciding to return to Sweden and try to build on what he had established there. From there he was hired by a radio station in Denmark to record an album. That album is My Name Is Albert Ayler. While he was there he met and performed with Gary Peacock and Cecil Taylor. Ayler describes Peacock as the best bass player he ever met and Peacock told Ayler that one reason he went on long fasts was to attain the kind of purity that Ayler already had. Ayler states that one thing he didn’t like about Taylor was that he was “too hard”. I’ve written before on here about the brutality of Cecil Taylor as a musician and I think that’s what he was referring to. Anyway, Ayler also calls Taylor great and describes following him back to NYC. Ayler gigged with Taylor and Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane used to come see them live. One night after Ayler was heckled Dolphy defended him by calling him the best in the world. Ayler describes Coltrane as a person who never got angry at anyone. Before Coltrane died he requested that Ayler play at his funeral and of course Ayler oblidged.
Location: East of the Southern North American West
Great history, one of your best entries tbh. ****, I could see a whole film being shot on the Ayler performance you described that could be really compelling even for someone who doesn't like jazz if it didn't fall into your typical biopic shortfalls.
Ayler states that one thing he didn’t like about Taylor was that he was “too hard”.
That definitely makes sense considering their performance styles. Ayler loved him a good explosion but he also let it breathe. Cecil Taylor was all about the explosion and while he would let it breathe, it was usually heavy breathing. I guess you could say that Ayler's playing was a state of existence while Taylor's playing was more like a good fuck. Both very powerful and necessary things, but with very different approaches despite similar extremes.
At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.
Today I’m going to discuss two pioneering California punk bands debut releases that were that were also the first and second releases on SST records.
Nervous Breakdown by Black Flag
5 tracks that run a total of 5:13.
*Arguably the first ever hardcore punk release.
*Greg Ginn’s guitar playing is straight ahead Johnny Ramone style down strokes and not the exploratory and ultimately Ornette influenced style it would become
*Keith Morris sounds a lot like Johnny Rotten
*Raymond Pettibon’s album cover art shows a scene from a dysfunctional classroom
Paranoid Time by the Minutemen.
7 tracks run 6:39.
*Very in your face short and direct punk rock songs.
*Pushed a different syncopation.
*Strong leftist political content.
*Closer to the Sex Pistols than the Ramones imo.
*Raymond Pettibon’s cover art shows Reagan coping a cheap feel on a movie set.
And this pleasant curiousity composed more recently
This was an excerpt from Wuorinen‘s response to Columbia published in the NY Times:
What the artist needs above all is not to be required to disguise himself as teacher, scholar, administrator, or janitor In or der to be allowed to remain within the institution. It is not that he may not well have pedagogical, scholarly, admin istrative, or janitorial interests—these are all fine, and it is not their nature that renders such activities inimical, it is their enforced practice. One must not be made into something he isn't. A com poser composes: that is his role, and that is his value in a university. More broadly, an artist is not a scholar: he makes, not regurgitates. And this places him in the university context in the same fertilizing position as the scien tist's, for all the divergence between the two areas of discipline. Just as the universities make constant concessions to the scientific mind so that it can do its own work, so they must to the ar tistic mind. And they must do it for the same ultimately disinterested rea sons.
I like that he equates teaching with vomiting. I know the feeling Wuorinen.
The following response was also printed in the NY Times:
Mr. Wuorinen says that a composer should not be required to “disguise himself as a teacher; the composer composes, that is his role.” No ques tion, this is undoubtedly his first duty, but if it is his only role, then why is he in the university? Who is going to do the teaching—the despised regurgi tators? Columbia, like any other uni versity, has on its faculty many excellent poets, philosophers, writers, architects, who are active as creative artists but who are also competent and dedicated teachers. What would happen to the university—and to the students— if all these men would throw away their “disguise,” just draw their salaries, and go their own way?
“So what’s the “significance” of all this?” you may be asking yourself. Well, Wuorinen is a strict twelve tone serialist. He lived in Schoenberg’s musical universe and had no time for those who didn’t. Columbia’s music faculty’s decision had little to do with anything else. It’s important to realize that by 1970 lack of strict adherence to Schoenberg’s system wasn’t the only avenue to radicalism or to be a part of avant-garde boundary pushing. However, if you need the pudding for proof Wuorinen was right that non twelve tonist were almost universally neo something. Still decades has passed since Schoenberg’s revolution. The door had been cracked for an alternative to the alternative.
Anyway, I have the text to the full Times articles that I’ll put under spoilers for those interested.
Spoiler for Wuorinen‘s Pissed:
THE misfortunes of an individual are only interesting so long as others can learn from inem, and in the case of my recent treat ment by Columbia University, the notion is doubly true. For the issue that is joined is not whether an individual has again been done dirt by an institution, but rather whether or not large bureau cratized educational organs are capable of supporting artistic (dare one say “creative”?) activity.
After a familial involvement with Co lumbia of 50 years (my father taught there for 40, and I proceeded directly from undergraduate and graduate work at the university into teaching there), I was this past spring denied tenure by a vote of the tenured members of the Music Department—a group consti tuting about one‐fifth of the teaching staff. The effect of this vote, barring administrative intervention, would have been to force me to leave the univer sity within two years; I decided to re sign immediately.
Why was this decision taken, and who was responsible? To the outside world it seemed odd that one so deeply in volved in the compositional scene at Columbia should be let go. But the out side world could not have known that all of the vigorous compositional activity at Columbia—the Electronic Music Cen ter (founded by Otto Luening and Vladi mir Ussachevsky), the Group for Con temporary Music (founded and directed by Harvey Sollberger and myself), the periodical, “Perspectives of New Music” (brought to the university and edited by Benjamin Boretz, a composer, like myself, given notice this spring), Co lumbia Composers (the student com posers' organization), the Performers Committee for Twentieth Century Music, and others—was the result of indi vidual initiative by faculty members; that the vigor and influence of the ac tivities resulted solely from individual concern, and had all proceeded without encouragement from the university ad ministration (except for the sympathetic support of the harassed department chairman, Jack Beeson).
Moreover, in spite of the fact that music at Columbia has always meant to the public contemporary music, the ruling circles of the Music Department are—through accidents of retirement, resignation, and the like—overwhelm ingly musicological. Perhaps, by con centrating so much on the past, they have developed a hostility to the pres ent, and to those who advocate it in music. Perhaps also, by allowing their own active practice of the art to atrophy into scholarly sedentariness, they have likewise come to fear those who com pose and perform.
But in any case, what needs empha sis here is that the contemporary musical activities at Columbia had grown up in an atmosphere of indifference: no one ever stood in the way of a project (until recently, that is, when the new administration began baring its fangs at the arts), but no one ever helped, either. The result in the present case was that when the departmental ax was applied to my neck, the same lack of response from the administration which had al ways met previous honors and ac complishments was now manifest in the face of what many thought was gross injustice. For several petitions by stu dents and faculty inside the university and out were sent to the university president, as well as numerous communi from individuals. To all of these the response was vague, sanctimonious and negative.
Thus, what once flourished in official indifference is now withering in official indifference. The same contempt for in dividual accomplishment for which the university has become well known now presides over the atrophy of the com positional scene at Columbia.
Why is this happening?
This is not the place to rehearse the academic aspects of the situation—the fact that no reason for the action against me has ever been given, in spite of repeated attempts to secure explanation; that in spite of a petition by one‐third of the music faculty that my case be reconsidered, the original action was simply reaffirmed; that a small group of ungenerous men can, under the pro tection of anonymity, take hostile ac tion against an individual who, under the system, has no rights and no re course. What needs to he examined is how this can be done without larger powers within the university moving to stop it, and what their failure to do so implies for the arts at Columbia and other universities.
I cannot escape the sense that a high level administrative decision has been made at Columbia to eliminate the arts from the campus. It is simply too sug gestive that on the heels of the adverse publicity surrounding the administra tion's decision last fall to amputate the Theater Division from the young and struggling School of the Arts, the poten tial disintegration of the university com positional scene should be so blandly accepted, so routinely assigned (in pub lic) to financial causes. One senses in all this not merely philistinism, but also a real rage at the outspokenness and volatility of artists. In the acrimony about the Theater Division last fall, the new president repeatedly warned the helpless School of the Arts of the dire of “confronting” him.
What does this new attitude betoken, emanating as it does from the same sources that only a few years ago were happily embracing the arts as a legiti mate new area of concern for univer sities? What does it twain to us who thought that new music belonged in the university?
I believe it shows a fundamental mis take many of us made a few years ago. Our error lay in mistaking the expan sionist acquisitiveness that has charac terized so many universities until the last two or three years for a real change of attitude on their part. The old Eastern private universities' traditional distrust of the arts seemed then to be dissolving: universities seemed on the verge of recognizing that disciplines other than the purely verbal were worthy of con cern and inclusion—and most important, that in the present socio‐economic con dition of the United States, only the university could function as enlightened, disinterested patron of the arts. But all that was when the money was, or seemed to be, pouring in. The moment the national economy and a rightward drifting body politic began to limit the flow of funds into, especially, private universities, more basic and more nega tive attitudes to surface.
At Columbia, whose finances appeared to collapse about the same time as university morale was shattered by the 1968 disturbances, we began to no tice a revived tendency to announce that the arts really had no place in the world of scholarship, and that those who practiced them ought to go some where else. As the financial situation worsened, of course, the arts, as the most recently added activities, were among the first to he downgraded. More over, in the face of an impressive surge of interest from the students, the atmos phere (a compound of a thousand daily acts of minor administrative unfriendli ness) for the arts worsened rapidly. And now, the artistic community at Co lumbia is so demoralized that those who remain, menaced by a hostile adminis tration and cut of from support, hardly know whether there is a future or not.
It is certainly true that what I have been describing is not, or not yet, uni versal. The great state universities of the Midwest (Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and so forth) retain large and vigorous programs in composition, and in the arts generally. But these institu tions have always been, because of their special locations and histories, the ma jor cultural centers in their regions. It is the old Eastern private universities that are now allowing support for the arts to decline. And they do so at a time when private support for other cultural institutions is also on the wane. Worse, because of the prestige of these universities, their policies tend to be followed by a host of lesser institutions. And these latter, recently sticking their toes into artistic waters, may now, after the example of their big brothers, hastily withdraw their feet.
What is needed at this moment of the national life is exactly the opposite. What is needed is courage from the universities—courage to declare support of the arts in spite of shrinking revenue. The universities must recognize their fundamental responsibilities in this do main, and shoulder them without com plaint.
Beyond all this, there is a broader issue that must confront the individual artist, and hence all who have concern for artistic health. It is the old question of what should be expected from the individual composer, performer, or other artist in an institutional setting. What the artist needs above all is not to be required to disguise himself as teacher, scholar, administrator, or janitor In or der to be allowed to remain within the institution. It is not that he may not well have pedagogical, scholarly, admin istrative, or janitorial interests—these are all fine, and it is not their nature that renders such activities inimical, it is their enforced practice. One must not be made into something he isn't. A com poser composes: that is his role, and that is his value in a university. More broadly, an artist is not a scholar: he makes, not regurgitates. And this places him in the university context in the same fertilizing position as the scien tist's, for all the divergence between the two areas of discipline. Just as the universities make constant concessions to the scientific mind so that it can do its own work, so they must to the ar tistic mind. And they must do it for the same ultimately disinterested rea sons.
But the arts don't command the mon ey the sciences do; the universities there fore see less need to bother with them. Where does this leave the individual artist? Simply, in search of another home.
Can he function alone? Of course the answer depends on the art, but for a composer, the answer is no. He needs performers, he needs theorists and his torians to speculate, criticize, and eluci date, and, above all, he needs colleagues. His music cannot sound without the help of others, be they performers or electronicists. In short, he cannot, like the painter or writer, disappear in a puff of disgust at the rigidity and stu pidity of institutions. Perhaps, in view of the problems the universities are now having, he has just picked the wrong institution.
I am beginning to believe that smaller institutions, like conservatories, offer the best hope for the present. Their advan tages are obvious: their modest size keeps individuals from being swallowed up; their devotion to music makes it unnecessary to keep proving to them that music is a good thing. The dis advantages are equally clear: conserva tories (one thinks first of the valiant New England Conservatory) are in even worse financial condition than universi ties, and some may soon be forced to close; also, they are often encrusted with very reactionary attitudes toward 20th‐century music. But in recent years, a vital and progressive new attitude has emerged in many of them, along with a strong will to survive. At this moment, surely, all who value musical health must give them support. For they may indeed be the only refuge left for composers.
In the end, I suppose a more general, more ominous lesson can be drawn from what Columbia has been doing recently to the arts. There seems to be a new destructive mood in the country, but different from the one so widely publi cized. I speak not bf the urge to pull down and destroy out of the frustration of expectation; rather of what seems to me a vengeful, petty spirit in many centers of power, which seeks to squeeze and crush manifestations not just of in tellectual and artistic individuality, but of the very desire to live a life of art and intellect. It is as if university administrators, politicians and others in like positions are trying to revenge them selves for the disappointments of their jobs on those whose concerns are com pletely other—the supporters and pro ducers of cultural life. As if they are saying, “If we are going to have hard times, so will you.” Perhaps, after all, as their jobs get harder for them to handle, the only way they can still manifest power is to use it to destroy.
Culture, of course, survives. Perhaps encysted in self‐defense, it still answers, in at least some human beings, needs that are too strong to be crushed with out destroying too the being who houses them. But if we worry about civilization, we must constantly affirm to society the absolutely primary role the arts play. Society exists to produce artistic manifestation, whatever form it may take, not the other way round. The saddest irony in the United States is that just when the artistic, the musical, culture is coming to its greatest flower ing, the boobs who run the institutions we depend on would cut us down and cast us out.
Columbia’s response is in the next post since I ran out of text.
AS a long‐time member of Columbia University's Music Department and, because of my retirement in 1970, not involved in the vote on Mr. Wuorinen's tenure, perhaps I may be permitted to reflect on his sweeping charges directed at this great university. Mr. Wuorinen prefaces his article with a disclaimer: it is not his individual case that rankles; he cites it only as a typical illustration of the inhumanity of a “large bureaucratized educational organ,” hostile to and callous about the arts. Yet this is an individual case indeed.
During my 37 years at Columbia, the department lived in peace except for the occasional brief spats that occur in every family. In the entire 75‐year history of the department there were only two instances when a quarrel reached such proportions that it neces sitated administrative intervention. In terestingly, both of these concerned gifted but highly temperamental com posers, unable to adjust to the disci pline, both educational and personal, required by a university. Edward Mac Dowell was at the end of a distin guished career; Charles Wuorinen is at the beginning of a more than promising one.
The same group which Mr. Wuorinen brands as anti‐artistic because they did not approve his permanent appointment unanimously elected Jack Beeson as chairman of the department; Mr. Beeson has proved to be an admirably adroit and impartial executive officer. And Mr. Beeson is a composer who cherishes his vocation as much as does his younger, headstrong colleague. But, unlike Mr. Wuorinen, he is a composer who is fully aware of the educational and organizational needs and principles of the university. The department sup ports musical composition as it does musical scholarship, and the two wings of the staff have gotten along very well indeed, the composers rising to professorships as regularly as the scholars. (It might be noted, however, that in no academic department is a first teaching post reasonably expected to lead to tenure.) If anything, Mr. Wuorinen and his group received more support than anyone else—from founda tions, from the university itself, from sympathetic deans. Surely, Jacques Bar zun cannot be accused of hostility toward composition in general and the avant‐garde in particular.
When Mr. Wuorinen's arrogance, ruthlessness, and contempt for anything outside his bailiwick increasingly irri tated his colleagues, it was Mr. Beeson who repeatedly asked the rest of us for forbearance; apparently during the past year the situation became intoler able, and Mr. Wuorinen was advised to seek an environment more suitable both for his unquestioned talents and for his unquestionable inability to get along with others. Mr. Wuorinen states that a composer “above all needs col leagues” it was not as a composer but precisely as a colleague that he failed at Columbia.
On August 8, The Sunday Times printed an article by Charles Wuorinen, Pulitzer Prize composer who recently resigned from the Music Department at Columbia University. In it, Mr. Wuorinen contended that he had been unjustly denied tenure at the university and expressed the fear that, due largely to economic cut‐backs and the resurfacing of negative attitudes toward artistic activity on the campus, the future of the arts at Columbia and other private Eastern universities is in grave question. In the article here, and in the letters that follow, The Times presents the reactions of readers, as well as a reply by Mr. Wuorinen.
The accusations made in his article are so outré that I am surprised that The Times published this outburst without verifying the facts. This vio lent attack on the university can issue only from a bad conscience of indebted ness. A young generation usually rebels against its elders if their thinking is considerably apart, but Mr. Wuorinen and his like‐minded confreres (a minor ity even among the younger staff) cannot accept the fact that they are only part of a cultural scene that has a weighty artistic inheritance, and in their envy and hostility see an enemy in everyone who is not of their per suasion. But when Mr. Wuorinen descends to the old saw that an “artist. is not a scholar: he makes, not regurgitates,” he betrays not only a juvenile conception of the nature and function of scholarship in the university, but insults the memory of his father, a distinguished scholar, who for 40 years was a member of the History Depart ment at Columbia University.
I want to single out just a few of the immature statements made in that Sunday piece. It is not true that “music at Columbia has always meant con temporary music.” How could it? A university is concerned with the entire spectrum of arts and letters. And who has ever seen at Columbia “contempt for individual accomplishment”? His statement that the “ruling circle” that decided his fate represents only about “one‐fifth” of the staff reminds me of the statistics released by the pro‐ Eisenhower faction when the president of Columbia ran for President of the United States: upon closer examination, that “academic majority” turned out to include the office staffs, the kitchen help, and the grounds crew.
Mr. Wuorinen says that a composer should not be required to “disguise himself as a teacher; the composer composes, that is his role.” No ques tion, this is undoubtedly his first duty, but if it is his only role, then why is he in the university? Who is going to do the teaching—the despised regurgi tators? Columbia, like any other uni versity, has on its faculty many excellent poets, philosophers, writers, architects, who are active as creative artists but who are also competent and dedicated teachers. What would happen to the university—and to the students— if all these men would throw away their “disguise,” just draw their salaries, and go their own way? It is absurd to state that “a high level administration deci sion has been made to eliminate the arts from the campus,” nor is it true that the university embraced the arts “only a few years ago” both the fine arts and the music departments were established at the end of the last century, and the latter has given high place to composers from the beginning.
Mr. Wuorinen's manifesto was a sorry display of spleen and vindictive ness. apparently the expression of an artistic Oedipus complex. Mr. Wuorinen seems to feel that he can ascend to eminence only if he succeeds in doing away with his predecessors. The uni versity inust be thought of as a living stream, a tradition, an active process that constantly rejuvenates itself. But it always deals with arts, letters, and sciences in their entirety, the past as well as the present. What makes this young man think that musical composi tion at Columbia will “disintegrate” with his departure? I am sure that music at Columbia will endure, even without Charles Wuorinen.
Ives's dissonance differs from that of most other composers who use it to express physical excitement, sensations of pleasure and pain, or effects of distortion in the manner of the modern painters, or to reflect spiritual conflict, as in the works of Baudelaire. Ives is always in quest of the transcendental. On the surface of his work, the infinite complexity of nature, the rapidly changing moods of forest and plain, the web of counterbalancing forces appear confused and dissociated. But Ives's involved texture, while mirroring this superficial confusion, at the same time attempts to show the larger harmony of rhythm behind the natural process. Faith in the purpose and goodness of nature rather than concern over its savage conflicts and hostility determines his choice of moods.
Ives, with his exalted goal for musical expression, believes that composers should be free always to follow their highest instincts. Difficulty of performance is the performer's problem, not his. The quest for performances, for payment for music, for success, are beside the point. Ives himself makes his money in business and so has been free in his pursuit of music as one of his instrumental parts, whose barlines, rhythms, notes, and speed do not tally with the rest of the orchestra. He is as difficult to assimilate into the pattern of the organized musical world as such a part is into an orchestral texture. (He has persistently refused royalties, prefers not to have his music copyrighted so that performers may feel free to take liberties, and usually insists on paying for publication. Thus he strictly preserves his amateur status, while his reputationbased rather on what has been written about him than on the few performances of his musicconstitutes a threat to the professional world.)