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Albert Ayler (1936-1970) was a jazz genius, whose story has the status of tragic myth – myth which, as often happens,is informed by truth. He pioneered free jazz on tenor saxophone, creating generations of disciples, beginning with JohnColtrane. In his ecstatic soundworld, he forged connections between the furthest reaches of 60s avantgardism, and themusic's beginnings in New Orleans, re-igniting its creative impulses. But free jazz was never a commercially viableform: when Ayler died he had won some critical recognition, but none from the jazz public. 1964 was Ayler's annusmirabilis. The epochal Spiritual Unity, featuring a trio with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray, institutedhis connection with ESP-Disk, consolidated by New York Eye and Ear Control, Spirits Rejoice, and Bells. In summer1964, trumpeter Don Cherry joined Ayler's group, and his dancing faux-naïve style provided an inspired contrast to theleader. In September, the new quartet was invited for a brief Scandinavian tour which extended to the Netherlands.
Andy Hamilton, January 2016