Friday, August 02, 2013

Albert Ayler - Live on the Riviera (ESP, 2013)

The great avant-garde saxophone player Albert Ayler's music has evolved since his early 60's entry as one of the vanguard musicians of the "new thing." After a series of excellent albums in the early to mid 1960's opportunities began to change, to the point where Impulse Records asked him to perform with vocalists and rock musicians to try and draw a larger audience. On this album from a French jazz festival in 1970, you hear aspects of the later works, as Ayler supports the vocalist Mary Maria Parks who sings and recites lyrics in a strange affected manner on "Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe" and "Island Harvest" where Ayler struggles to find purchase in this bizarre setting. He fares much better on "Masonic Inborn" where is is given space to improvise widely with drummer Allen Blairman and bassist Steve Tintweiss. The highlight of the set comes at the very end when Ayler revisits one his most well known themes, "Ghosts," where he proves that he was still a force to be reckoned with, using the folky melody to propel him to a hair-raising and thrilling improvisation. Live On the Riviera -

Send comments to Tim.