Friday, November 09, 2007

Albert Ayler – The Hilversum Session (ESP, 2007)

This album is a fascinating glimpse of free jazz history, featuring Albert Ayler's greatest band which was responsible for the albums Spiritual Unity and Vibrations. Joining him are Gary Peacock on bass and Sunny Murray on drums, with Donald Ayler on trumpet. This album was recorded in a Dutch radio studio in 1964 and then only saw a small release on LP in 1980, before finding wider release in this deluxe edition. The material covered here, represents some of Ayler's most widely known themes, using melodies as jumping off points to wide open improvisations. “Ghosts” and “C.A.C” have the strongest impact, the melodies are as old as music but the improvisations are as fresh as paint. Ayler will often start his improvisations with a slow rendition of the particular melody before working himself up to a level of ecstatic furor before launching into improvisatory flights into the upper register of the tenor saxophone. Donald Ayler adds trumpet smears like an impressionist painter while Peacock and Murray underpin everything in a constantly shifting and evolving manner. This is a very good album of early acoustic free jazz. The sound quality for a historical release of this vintage is really excellent. The performances are very good and anyone interested in Ayler or avant-garde jazz will enjoy the music.

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