Thursday, July 13, 2017

Holy Ghost Ride

For my next trick, let's fire up a birthday tribute to one of the true innovators, and someone I have admired my whole adult life for his sheer lack of given fucks.
He barely lived to be 34, and while here enjoyed a tortured existence being pulled in several directions by his record label, himself, and the times.
Decades later, he is in less than no danger of ever being forgotten, and has become a stealth influence not just on Jazz, but on music as a whole.
He may have jumped into the East River between Queens and Manhattan when it all became too much, but today he is considered part of the formative triptych of Free Jazz: Coltrane the Father, Pharoah Sanders the Son, and he the Holy Ghost.
His influence has, in the nearly 50 years since his death, expanded far beyond just improvised music, with tendrils of his explosive style and conceptions about music and sound finding their way into Rock, Punk and R&B.
Full disclosure: I have loved and identified with the story and music of Albert Ayler since I was a teenager. For me, he is one of the most revolutionary figures in the vast continuum of American music.
He was twisted in the most ridiculous directions when he was alive. The critics reacted with a combination of mockery and mystification, even as deities like 'Trane championed his ideas.
Coltrane insisted Ayler be one of two musicians to play at his funeral when he knew he was dying (the other was Ornette Coleman). While alive, he took it upon himself to help support AA financially.
Their record label, the legendary impulse! imprint, tried to make Ayler into a Rock star, emphasizing as the Sixties went by his attempts at integrating Soul and R&B into his repertoire. It didn't work. At all.
It doesn't matter. His music is so revered by other players that over the years, every so often, a tribute project appears to play his compositions and keep his name in the spotlight. Today's share features a scintillating concert by just such a group, this one featuring a quartet of absolute heavyweight Jazzers paying him a most deserved homage.
A Tribute to Albert Ayler
Rencontres Internationales D'Jazz de Nevers
Théâtre Municipal
Nevers, France

01 intro
02 Holy Ghost/Spirits Rejoice/Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe/Mothers
03 D.C.
04 Roy Campbell intro
05 Change Has Come/Truth Is Marching In
06 outro

Total time: 1:10:41

Roy Campbell - trumpet, flugelhorn, pocket cornet, flute
Joe McPhee - tenor sax, pocket trumpet
William Parker - double bass
Warren Smith - drums

digital capture of a 2009 France Musique broadcast
This show is absolutely blistering, and all four participants do tremendous honor to AA's work. Watch out for reedmelter Joe McPhee -- someday he's gonna get his own tribute on this page -- as he channels everything Ayler, right down to the wide, emotional vibrato for which the man was so famous.
He would have been 81  years old today, born as he was in 1936, but as I stated his music was/is so pure and so evocative and individual to him that he will never, ever die. Anyway latch onto the tribute show I have put into the cloud and if you don't know, you'll eventually begin to understand what makes Albert Ayler one of the most unique, committed and intense musicians in any genre, ever.--J.
7.13.1936 - 11.25.1970