Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

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 #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read King Of Xhosa CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Blooming Tall Phlox CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Miniatures" CD/LP/Track Review Miniatures
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 20, 2016
Read "El Changüí Majadero" CD/LP/Track Review El Changüí Majadero
by James Nadal
Published: August 11, 2016
Read "Dancing Our Way To Death" CD/LP/Track Review Dancing Our Way To Death
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Shimmer And Melt" CD/LP/Track Review Shimmer And Melt
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 1, 2016
Read "Pineapples and Ashtrays" CD/LP/Track Review Pineapples and Ashtrays
by James Nadal
Published: May 8, 2016
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 31, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!