Albert Ayler Biography (BBC)
Ayler was the most extreme and radical of the 'New Thing' movement of the 1960s. His playing style included honks, wails and long, complex phrases that the critic Ekkehard Jost described as 'sound-spans'. He arrived at this by a fairly conventional musical training. As a boy he had lessons from his father, and grew up alongside his trumpeter brother Donald.
He became a rhythm and blues player with singer Little Walter , before being inducted into an army band with which he toured Europe. He worked there after leaving the army, playing with avant garde pianist Cecil Taylor in Denmark. Then in 1963, he returned to America, and led a series of groups that played his unusual, very personal style of free jazz. With his most sympathetic partners, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray, he made a number of very influential discs in the mid-1960s.
These explore texture and timbre - finding new areas for group improvisation, and the several versions of Ghosts that Ayler recorded show how his band could deconstruct the melody in a variety of ways. At its best, his music has a passionate intensity, and rhythmic complexity. In his final years he worked on march themes and on rhythm and blues ideas, but these lacked the distinctive originality of his best trio or quartet recordings. His death is mysterious - and his body was found floating in New York's East River almost three weeks after he was reported as a missing person.
Albert Ayler Biography (Wikipedia)
Albert Ayler (July 13, 1936 – November 25, 1970) was an American avant-garde jazz saxophonist, singer and composer.
After early experience playing R&B and bebop, Ayler began recording music during the free jazz era of the 1960s. However, some critics argue that while Ayler's style is undeniably original and unorthodox, it does not adhere to the generally accepted critical understanding of free jazz. In fact, Ayler's style is difficult to categorize in any way, and it evoked incredibly strong and disparate reactions from critics and fans alike. His innovations have inspired subsequent jazz musicians.
His trio and quartet records of 1964, such as Spiritual Unity and The Hilversum Session, show him advancing the improvisational notions of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman into abstract realms where whole timbre, and not just mainly harmony with melody, is the music's backbone. His ecstatic music of 1965 and 1966, such as "Spirits Rejoice" and "Truth Is Marching In", has been compared by critics to the sound of a brass band, and involved simple, march-like themes which alternated with wild group improvisations and were regarded as retrieving jazz's pre-Louis Armstrong roots.
Albert Ayler Tracks