Friday, July 28, 2017

Albert Ayler Quartet - Copenhagen Live 1964 (hatOLOGY, 2017)

The legendary free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler was at the height of his powers in 1964, the year of his landmark recording Spiritual Unity, so anything from this period is a big deal and this live album captures him in action with the people who accompanied him on that that classic LP, Gary Peacock on bass and Sunny Murray on drums. Even more interesting is the addition of Don Cherry on cornet, just after he finished serving in Ornette Coleman's pioneering quartet, going from strength to strength and shoring up the front line of this extraordinary band. They play wide open and exciting versions of some of Ayler's most well known themes, beginning with "Spirits" which is infused with the leader's billowing tenor saxophone lines that are further aided by Cherry's probing and provocative brass. The group also returns to reprise that theme to end the concert which brought brings the entire experience around full circle. The quartet follows that performance up with "Vibrations" and "Saints" which take the music even further into the spiritual jazz vibe. The rhythm section of Peacock and Murray keeps the music unfettered but structured and allows the music to flow with a series of fully engaged collective improvisations, but there are solos that develop with the instrumentalists making bold statements and featuring some powerful and punchy cornet from Don Cherry. "Mothers" and "Children" form a bridge to some of Ayler's later period music, opening groove oriented statements that allows the group to take these haunting themes and use them for stark and powerful improvisational performances, The combination of Ayler and Murray is particularly potent, driving each other to greater heights of furor. The focus is on ensemble play, with excellent group playing, and no heroes trying to dominate the music. This is an excellent archival release from a group that was together for only a short time. Recorded live at Club Montmartre, the sound is quite acceptable for the time and is an excellent investment for fans of avant-garde jazz.  Copenhagen Live 1964 -

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