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Live In Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings

Albert Ayler

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Album Review

Live in Greenwich Village was Albert Ayler's first recording for Impulse, and is arguably his finest moment, not only for the label, but ever. This double-CD reissue combines both of the Village concerts — documented only partially on previously released LPs — recorded in 1965 and 1966 with two very different groups. The Village gigs reveal the mature Ayler whose music embodied bold contradictions: There are the sweet, childlike, singalong melodies contrasted with violent screaming peals of emotion, contrasted with the gospel and R&B shouts of jubilation, all moving into and through one another. On the 1965 date, which featured Ayler, his brother Donald on trumpet, Joel Freedman on cello, bassist Lewis Worrell, and the great Sunny Murray on drums, the sound is one of great urgency. Opening with "Holy Ghost," the Aylers come out stomping and Murray double times them to bring the bass and cello to ground level in order to anchor musical proceedings to their respective generated sounds. "Truth Is Marching In" casts a bleating, gospelized swirl against a backdrop of three- and four-note "sung" phrases that are constantly repeated, à la a carny band before kicking down all the doors and letting it rip for almost 13 minutes. On the 1967 date of the second disc, the Aylers are augmented with drummer Beaver Harris, violinist Michel Sampson, Bill Folwell and Alan Silva on basses, and trombonist George Steele on the closer, "Universal Thoughts." "For John Coltrane" opens the set with a sweltering abstraction of tonalities in the strings and horns. On "Change Has Come," the abstraction remains but the field of language is deeper, denser, more urgent. Only with "Spiritual Rebirth," which opens with a four-note theme, does one get the feeling that the band has been pacing itself for this moment, and that the concert has become an actual treatise on the emotion of "singing" as an ensemble in uncharted territories. Throughout the rest of the set, Ayler's band buoys him perfectly, following him up through every new cloud of unknowing into a sublime musical and emotional beyond which, at least on recordings, would never be realized again. This recording is what all the fuss is about when it comes to Ayler. ~Thom Jurek, Rovi

Customer Reviews

I haven't even heard the whole thing yet, but...

...when the band elegantly walked through the epic three and a half minute theme of "Truth Is Marching In", and right before the downbeat proceeds to mangle it like a freshly killed chicken, I have to give this five stars. I'm optimistic for the rest of the album.

Awe inspiring

This album belongs somewhere between an insane assylum and a New Orleans funeral march; therefore, I couldn't love it more. Totally original, too. I don't think Ayler sounds remotely like anyone else, though I realize that he was very influencial. Too bad about his tragic death. Don Ayler, trumpeter on this album, were you not you're brother's keeper?

Biography

Born: July 13, 1936 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s

One of the giants of free jazz, Albert Ayler was also one of the most controversial. His huge tone and wide vibrato were difficult to ignore, and his 1966 group sounded...
Full Bio

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