Albert Ayler - Holy Ghost Disc 5 (Revenant, 2004)
Disc five has a couple of explosive live performances from Europe in 1966. The band on this tour was Ayler tenor and soprano saxophones, Donald Ayler trumpet, Michael Smason violin, Bill Folwell bass and Beaver Harris drums. First from the Berlin Philharmonic we get a medley of "Ghosts" and "Bells" that stays pretty close to the original folk themes. "The Truth is Marching In" struts in with its fanfare theme before blasting into an improvisation. "Omega" is fascinating, nearly all melody, it’s a near-classical composition with a soft beauty that the band wasn’t really known for. It wouldn’t last - Don Ayler’s "Our Prayer" is one of the most violent improvisations in the entire box, or in the canon of jazz for that matter.
We move to a concert in Holland for the remainder of the disc with the same group. "Truth" gets another go-round with an intense violin solo leading into frenetic group improvisation. Ayler and Harris lock into an almost Coltrane/Jones mind-meld before the rest of the group comes barging back in. "Bells" enters with a shrieking cacophony led by Donald Ayler’s fire-spitting trumpet followed by a scraping violin solo, drum solo and then the horns re-enter for a full-speed run to... nowhere. They have a complete meltdown and the music grinds inexplicably to a halt.
Undaunted, the martial theme of "Spirits Rejoice" begins linking bowed bass and violin to nearly classical horn lines. There is some beautiful melodic interplay here between the horns and violin as Samson had become an integral part of the group by this point. What is fascinating about this performance is how the band is able to hold it’s fire and milk the most out of the melodic material that is available with quite a bit of restraint. The heavy lifting kicks in with the final track of the performance where fast group improvisation is built around a swirling violin solo.
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