Saturday, March 22, 2008

Albert Ayler (July 13, 1936November 1970) was an American jazz saxophonist, singer and composer.

Born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Ayler was first taught alto saxophone by his father Edward with whom he played duets in church. He later studied at the Academy of Music in Cleveland with jazz saxophonist Benny Miller. As a teen Ayler played with such skill that he was known around Cleveland as "Little Bird," Although it is reasonable to assume the Aylers had explored or were exploring psychedelic drugs like LSD, there is no evidence this significantly influenced their mental stability.
For the next two and half years Ayler turned to recording music not too far removed from rock and roll, often with utopian, hippie lyrics provided by his live-in girlfriend Mary Maria Parks. Ayler drew on his very early career, incorporating doses of R&B, with funky, electric rhythm sections and extra horns (including Scottish highland bagpipe) on some songs. The first album in this vein, New Grass, is reviled by his fans and generally considered to be the worst of his work. Following its commercial failure, Ayler unsuccessfully attempted to bridge his earlier "space bebop" recordings and the sound of New Grass with Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe. In July of 1970 Ayler returned to the free jazz idiom for a group of shows in France but the band he was able to assemble was amateurish and not nearly of the caliber of his earlier groups.

Albert Ayler Biography
Ayler disappeared on November 5, 1970, and he was found dead in New York City's East River on November 25, a presumed suicide. For some time afterwards, rumors circulated that Ayler had been murdered, possibly due to his involvement in the black power movement. Later, however, Parks would say that Albert had been depressed and feeling guilty, blaming himself for his brother's problems. She stated that, just before his death, he had several times threatened to kill himself, smashed one of his saxophones over their television set after she tried to dissuade him, then took the Statue of Liberty ferry and jumped off as it neared Liberty Island. He is buried in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ayler in film
Year of recording, original album title, original record label and country of origin.(p) indicates posthumous release.

1962: Something Different!!!!! (aka The First Recordings Vol. 1) (Bird Notes) (Sweden)
1962: The First Recordings, Vol. 2 (Bird Notes) (Sweden)
1963: My name is Albert Ayler (Debut) (Denmark)
1964: Spirits (aka Witches & Devils) (Debut) (Denmark)
1964: Swing low sweet spiritual (Osmosis) (Holland) (p) (CD release: Goin' Home (Black Lion))
1964: Prophecy [live] (ESP/Base) (Italy) (p)
1964: Albert Smiles With Sunny [live] (In Respect] (Germany) (p) (CD 1: Prophecy, CD 2: extra material from same concert, subsequently included on Holy Ghost)
1964: Spiritual Unity (ESP Disk) (US)
1964: New York Eye And Ear Control (ESP) (US)
1964: Albert Ayler [live] (Philology) (Italy) (p) (CD release: Live In Europe 1964-1966 (Landscape) (France). 1964 tracks included on The Copenhagen Tapes, 1966 tracks included on Holy Ghost)
1964: The Copenhagen tapes [live] (Ayler Records) (Sweden) (p)
1964: Ghosts (aka Vibrations) (Debut) (Denmark)
1964: The Hilversum session (Osmosis) (Holland) (p)
1965: Bells [live] (ESP) (US)
1965: Spirits rejoice (ESP) (US)
1965: Sonny's Time Now (Jihad) (US)
1966: At Slug's saloon, vol. 1 & 2 [live] (ESP/Base) (Italy) (p)
1966: Lörrach / Paris 1966 [live] (hat HUT) (Switzerland) (p)
1966: In Greenwich Village [live] (Impulse! Records) (US)
1966: The Village Concerts [live] (Impulse! Records) (US) (p) (CD release of In Greenwich Village and The Village Concerts as Live In Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings (Impulse! Records))
1967: Love cry (Impulse! Records) (US)
1968: New grass (Impulse! Records) (US)
1969: Music is the healing force of the universe (Impulse! Records) (US)
1969: The last album (Impulse! Records) (US) (p)
1970: Nuits de la Fondation Maeght Vol. 1 & 2 [live] (Shandar) (France) (p)
1970: Albert Ayler Quintet 1970 [live] (Blu Jazz) (Italy) (p) (re-released as Live On The Riviera (ESP) (US))
1960-1970: Holy Ghost (Revenant) (US) (p) (10 disc box set featuring Ayler's first and last recordings, plus other previously unreleased material.)

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