450

Albert Ayler Trio: Spiritual Unity

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Albert Ayler Trio: Spiritual Unity 1964 proved to be a watershed year for Albert Ayler, who recorded enough material for ten albums, three for ESP alone. With drummer Sunny Murray a lone constant, Ayler exchanged Henry Grimes for Gary Peacock on bass midyear, briefly adding Don Cherry for some of the most memorable excursions he would commit to tape, including the expanded group that scorched through New York Eye and Ear Control. Almost a month to the day after capturing the Ayler/Peacock/Murray trio live at the Cellar Cafe in New York, ESP recorded them performing nearly the same program in the studio as Spiritual Unity.

As part of ESP owner Bernard Stollman's better-late-than-never remaster/reissue series, Spiritual Unity still weighs in at under thirty minutes with no bonus tracks. But the four original tracks pack more power and punch 41 years after the fact than most dreck-filled full length releases. In glorious mono (on the opening track; the rest are stereo), Ayler invents "ancient to the future with his unmatched mixture of old time spiritual theme snippets played with maudlin vibrato launching into unfathomable dimensions of sound. The shivering shriek and wavering wail return with a freshness that knows no expiration date.

The first of two versions of "Ghosts barely states the theme before the fun begins. Murray steams the cymbals as Ayler finds every manner of variation, fingers working the keys as primal nerve impulse. When he rests, Peacock briefly runs the baton over unexpected intervals. It's amazing to reflect that he came into his tenure with Ayler after his historic pensive, empathic association with Bill Evans, a polar opposite if ever there was one. Ayler returns for a more complete stating of the theme. The second "Ghosts has Peacock more aggressive in the opening, and during nearly double the length of the first version, Ayler wastes no time reaching for the stars. There must have been a good deal of body English involved as he moved up and back off the mic, blowing the brass off the sax.

The enigmatic theme of "The Wizard sets a roiling improv in motion where the ideal of three playing as one finds realization. Ayler breaks out with jagged-edged multiphonics, taking the tenor on a runaway train ride few would dare attempt. Spirits slows it down as Ayler sings, slides, and slurs the sax through the land of strange beauty that only he inhabited, though others visited. Murray and Peacock relax, working off space, silence, and the beauty of freedom.

The Ayler ESP recordings remain some of the most breathtakingly remarkable music ever captured: original, alien, and as seductively familiar as one's own pulse.


Track Listing: Ghosts: First Variation; The Wizard; Spirits; Ghosts: Second Variation.

Personnel: Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone; Gary Peacock: bass; Sunny Murray: percussion.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: ESP Disk | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Argonautica" CD/LP/Track Review Argonautica
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 8, 2016
Read "Saturday Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Saturday Songs
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 5, 2016
Read "From Here to There" CD/LP/Track Review From Here to There
by Mark F. Turner
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Bring Joy" CD/LP/Track Review Bring Joy
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by Troy Collins
Published: October 22, 2016
Read "Outside In" CD/LP/Track Review Outside In
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 9, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!