Cleveland club La Cave, a grungy cellar which could accommodate around two hundred people, opened as a folk venue in 1962, transitioned into rock mid-decade, and closed in 1969. Along the way, in amongst such counterculture flagbearers as the Velvet Underground and The Fugs, La Cave booked a few of the bad boys of so-called "new thing" jazz, among them tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler, a Cleveland hometown hero.
The 2xCD La Cave Live-Cleveland 1966-Revisited
comprises just over two hours of music performed at the venue on April 16 and 17 that year. It is the first release of the material to be authorized by Ayler's estate. On most tracks, Ayler leads a sextet comprising trumpeter Donald Ayler
, tenor saxophonist Frank Wright
(not present on the half dozen April 16 tracks), violinist Michel Samson
, bassist Mutawef A Shaheed
and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson
Frank Wright's presence is one of the unexpected treats of La Cave Live
. If Ayler pulverized conventional signal-to-noise ratios, Wright stomped the bloody pieces into the ground. One gets a hint of where he was coming from in the liner notes to his album Uhuru Na Umoja
(Emarcy America, 1970). In the notes, he says: "No motherfucker can tell me what I have to play, and I know I'm right because what I do is countersigned by master John Coltrane
, who accepted me at his side by calling me 'little brother.'" Or, as Ben Ratliff put it in Coltrane: The Story Of A Sound
(Faber and Faber, 2007): "Until his death in 1990, [Wright] distinguished himself as almost the last of a breed by his devotion to the principles of power, loudness [and] maximum nonmelodic screaming-through-the-horn."
Wright's channelling of the honking and screaming tenor tradition stemmed from R&B and gospel, as did Ayler's, which came full circle in 1968 on New Grass
(Impulse!). So Wright does not so much bring a new dimension to the mostly familiar material performed on La Cave Live
as enhance it. The album makes a fine companion piece to ezz-thetics' Lorrach, Paris 1966
and Stockholm, Berlin 1966
, both of which cover similar ground, without Wright but with Donald Ayler and Michel Samson, and with bassist Bill Folwell and drummer Beaver Harris
. La Cave Live
was recorded under difficult circumstances on an entry level set-up, but the CD mastering by Michael Brandli, one of ezz-thetics label's technical wizards, who has been responsible for some of its Revisited strand's miraculous sound restorations, brings it up to scratch.
CD1: Spirits Rejoice; Prophet/Ghosts/Spiritual Bells; Our Prayer/Spirits Rejoice; Untitled Truth Is Marching In; Spirits; Zion Hill. CD2: Spirits; Spiritual Bells; Untitled (F# tune); Spirits Rejoice; D.C.; Untitled (minor waltz); Our Prayer; Untitled (F# tune); Ghosts.
Frank Wright: tenor saxophone (CD1; CD2 1-3).