Albert Ayler was a musician who was very influential in the free jazz movement of the 1960’s. Drawing on folk themes and open minded improvisational styles, he created a music this reverberates to this day. This group, consisting of Joe McPhee on trumpet and saxophone, Roy Campbell on trumpet, William Parker on bass and Warren Smith on drums is from the generation following Ayler, on this album they use some of his themes and styles to compose a wide ranging improvised tribute to his life and music. Smith opens “Music Is the Healing Force” with a spoken word recitation, setting the tone for music that is as much a spiritual quest as a musical one. Strong bass, drums and trumpet respond and build energy, followed by a potent high energy blast of free saxophone and trumpet. “Muntu” has a subtle bass and drum opening, Parker’s elastic bass providing a firm grounding for McPhee’s bluesy tenor. McPhee builds his solo to a peak that includes some intense over blowing, making for an exciting solo, before the full band returns to take the music out. “Obama Victory Shoutout” has a strong bass and drum opening with some spoken word, extolling the President’s victory in the recent election. Horns join in on an Ayler-ish melody building to some jubilant improvisation featuring trumpet soloing over rumbling bass. Ayler’s “DC” finds the full band jumping right in let by spitfire trumpet, just scalding stuff. After a bass and drums interlude, there are sections of bowed bass, probing trumpet and strong deep tenor saxophone. “Prophet John” has fast and dexterous trumpet joined by the full band. McPhee switches to saxophone, fueled by the group, he unleashes squalls of music, leading the group in an exciting full band free improvisation. Ayler’s “Universal Indians” ends the concert on a very high note with strong full band improvisation building to a joyous cacophony, and ascending waves of pure musical energy. This live recording was very exciting, and we are fortunate that the group was recorded on their brief European tour. Ayler's influence still resonates through the creations of these fearless musical explorers.
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