All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

415

Albert Ayler Trio: Spiritual Unity

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Whole generations of musicians and listeners experienced a dramatic and irrevocable awakening in the years after Albert Ayler's Spiritual Unity came out in 1964, and the record has a certain timeless quality that makes it just as important today. The piercing emotional emphasis and startlingly voice- like qualities of Ayler's saxophone playing turn childishly simple melodies into expanded voyages of personal discovery and spontaneous invention. Bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray share an abstract, ethereal connection where norms of meter and harmony seem quite naturally irrelevant.

But Spiritual Unity remains enigmatic even now, nearly 35 years after Ayler's body was mysteriously found in the Hudson River. Part of that mystique comes from Ayler's own shrouded references to religion and spirituality, with revolving titles like "Ghosts" and "Spirits" evoking milennia- old cycles of meditation, discovery, redemption, and rebirth.

Part of it also comes from the makeshift presentation the record received as the first official release on Bernard Stollman's brand new ESP-Disk, a haven where "the artists alone decide" what would happen during their quick, mostly one-take studio sessions, but where the information provided about these events was spotty and sometimes contradictory.

This latest reissue of Spiritual Unity transports me to an existence ecstatically free of time and place, bringing back memories of how I first got swept away in the Ayler phenomenon years ago. Oddly enough, I never noticed the first track was recorded in mono until today—which is a sign that the disc's sound quality, while less than spectacular, does nothing to interfere with its effectiveness.

The sound is better on this remastered version than the one I picked up a few years ago, but the liner notes fall short. The essays on the ESP-Disk phenomenon and the session itself don't have the same information content as the biographies, label story, and Stollman interview included with the earlier release. So there's really no need for those already familiar with this recording to dash out for the latest and greatest.

But if you haven't heard this record, you've missed out on one of the most profound artistic statements of the 20th Century. Enough said.


Track Listing: Ghosts: ?rst variation; The Wizard; Spirits; Ghosts: second variation.

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

Title: Spiritual Unity | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: ESP Disk

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Half Light CD/LP/Track Review
Half Light
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 24, 2018
Read The Groove Hunter CD/LP/Track Review
The Groove Hunter
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Powered by Life CD/LP/Track Review
Powered by Life
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Seymour Reads The Constitution! CD/LP/Track Review
Seymour Reads The Constitution!
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Mephiti CD/LP/Track Review
Mephiti
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2018
Read Seymour Reads The Constitution! CD/LP/Track Review
Seymour Reads The Constitution!
by Doug Collette
Published: May 23, 2018
Read "Leap of Faith Orchestra - Possible Universes" CD/LP/Track Review Leap of Faith Orchestra - Possible Universes
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 1, 2017
Read "New Angle" CD/LP/Track Review New Angle
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 13, 2017
Read "Louise Baranger Plays The Great American Songbook" CD/LP/Track Review Louise Baranger Plays The Great American Songbook
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: February 6, 2018
Read "Sorrows & Triumphs" CD/LP/Track Review Sorrows & Triumphs
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 12, 2018
Read "Parting Is" CD/LP/Track Review Parting Is
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 14, 2018
Read "From Beyond" CD/LP/Track Review From Beyond
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 16, 2018