Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

5

Albert Ayler Quartet: Copenhagen Live 1964

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
It's almost as if the phenomenon that was saxophonist Albert Ayler was just a dream. Nearly fifty years after his death, listeners (and musicians, for that matter) are still catching up to him, and realizing his gift. His life, like that of Charlie Parker, ended at age 34. But where Parker (an originator of bebop) developed in the musical world of Kansas City, Ayler seemingly stepped off a spaceship to deliver his provocative free jazz. 

Ayler's early career, in the Cleveland R&B scene, didn't lay the groundwork for his revolution. Perhaps it was his US Army band tenure in France, and subsequent relocation to Sweden that facilitated his conversion; a sort of Biblical Ezekiel receiving a message from heaven. When drummer Sunny Murray and pianist Cecil Taylor first heard the saxophonist in Europe, their skepticism quickly turned to belief. His powerful sound, which legend tells us could crack ceilings, arrived fully formed. The fact that no one was ready for Ayler in 1962, begs the question, are we now? Today, you can listen to saxophonists John Dikeman and Mats Gustafsson, the modern descendants of the Ayler sound and thankfully hear some of the music he made in his short life.

This live date from 1964, originally released as The Copenhagen Tapes (Ayler Records, 2002), a long out-of-print edition, is a fine pairing with Ayler's European Radio Studio Recordings 1964 (Hatology, 2016). Both sport the same quartet of Ayler equals, cornetist Don Cherry, bassist Gary Peacock, and drummer Sunny Murray. 

The incendiary sounds, a free jazz aficionado's manna from heaven, are lovingly remastered here, and Derek Taylor's liner notes give a historical context to this session. The quartet opens with the now familiar piece "Spirits," a catch-me- if-you-can acceleration of energy. Peacock's agility at the bass is equaled by the grace with which he maintains the architecture of the music. While Ayler is blowing down walls (and tradition), Cherry acts as his lieutenant, at times escorting Ayler before pushing him into new directions. Where brother Don Ayler was brash, Cherry favors a subtler sound. The eeriness of "Saints" is heightened by Murray's ghostly moans and his abandonment of constant pulse for a fragmented sound. 

Call this music revolutionary and free. But also recognize that the prophet Albert Ayler was on earth to deliver this message, one that found followers in the master John Coltrane, then Gato Barbieri, David Murray Paul Flaherty, and rock icon Thurston Moore. 

Track Listing: Spirits; Vibrations; Saints; Mothers; Children; Spirits.

Personnel: Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone; Don Cherry: cornet; Gary Peacock: bass; Sunny Murray: drums.

Title: Copenhagen Live 1964 | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Hatology

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read The Songbook Project CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Project
by Don Phipps
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Solo a Genova CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Reaching Out CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "Meeting My Shadow" CD/LP/Track Review Meeting My Shadow
by James Nadal
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Sing House" CD/LP/Track Review Sing House
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 30, 2017
Read "Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Ocean of Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Incidentals" CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Together, As One" CD/LP/Track Review Together, As One
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 16, 2017