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Customer Review

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There are no halfway houses with...or for... Ayler !!!!!!, 28 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Complete Impulse: Live Greenwi (Audio CD)
If heavily armed aliens came to Earth and said, "Give us a reason why we should not wipe humans off the face of the planet," I would play them "Angels" from the first disc of this two disc set, and they would leave in shame. It took me a long time to come to a point where I could appreciate Ayler, but this CD, which is among the finest work he ever did, helped a lot. Ayler seemed to believe that every sound that could be made should be a part of music, and this is why he includes "noise" in his playing, along with lightspeed solos, blasts of enormous tonalities, and pure sheets of abstract sound. His melodic statements are simple but played with such force and conviction and such rawness that it demands some sort of reaction from the listener. You will either think you are hearing God's own music or the worst sort of devilish noise; there are no halfway places with Ayler.
This CD set really shows Albert Ayler at his best, combining musical ideas to create the essentially spiritual sound that he heard in his head, a sound that was meant to inspire his listeners to transcendence. This is not easy music to listen to because it violates nearly every rule of not only jazz but music as it is normally played and heard, but it is terribly, terribly important to listen to this music. Why? Because Albert Ayler's music is one of the most pure expressions of the human spirit ever recorded. If you listen to this, I mean really listen, and not try to use it as background music - if you give it your full attention, put aside your preconceptions about what music should or should not be, and open your mind to the sounds on these two CDs, you will be changed. And for the better.
There really was no one like Albert Ayler in jazz during the 1960s. (Or before....or since, tho David S Ware got close in the 90s).Sure, John Coltrane could play monumentally complex sax, only to jettison the learned architecture for a complete reversal of virtuosity in his last works. And Pharoah Sanders could haunt and beguile with mournful cries and yawps. But Ayler was altogether different: he took the scarcest of melodies--folk and church tunes, really--and elevated them to spiritual zeniths. These live cuts were once super hard to find, on a scattering of LPs released in the 1970s. Collected as a whole on two CDs, they are a thing of pristine, if boundary-testing, beauty. Ayler takes barely any time at all before wailing into his stratospheric cries on tenor sax, and his brother Donald follows suit on trumpet with nearly the same quick leaps. The extended band includes, at its largest, the Ayler brothers with a full string quartet (Michael Sampson, violin; Joel Freedman, cello; Bill Folwell and Alan Silva, basses) and drummer Beaver Harris. They play numerous, almost easily-recognizable melodies from their oeuvre, including "Truth Is Marching In," "Spirits Rejoice," and "Omega Is the Alpha." They also offer "For John Coltrane," recorded in early 1967 after Trane's untimely demise. Spectacular would be a simple way to describe Ayler's ensemble and his compositions. But it wouldn't be out of proportion to the music. There's a reason, after all, that new jazz scion Anthony Braxton refers to avant-garde jazz of the late-1960s and after as the "post-Ayler continuum." Ayler pushed and pushed. And succeeded.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Aug 2012 19:08:50 BDT
I agree with a lot of your observations, however, your dismissal of late Coltrane and Sanders post 1967 is to ignore the enormous spiritual well that these masters dipped into and communicated to us all. I agree Ayler is difficult as is late Coltrane and Sanders - they are all very rewarding. My message to all is listen and be uplifted as I have been over the past 40 years.
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