This tribute to free-jazz icon Albert Ayler is dripping with inspiration, charged with heightened energy and bursting with subversive ideas. Joined by pianist-organist Jamie Saft, bass great Buster Williams and longtime collaborator Matt Wilson on drums, tenor saxophonist Jeff Lederer unleashes with cathartic abandon on his “Albert’s Sun” (based on Ayler’s tune “Sunwatcher”) and on a soulful, organ-fueled rendition of Duke Pearson’s “Cristo Redentor.”
“Arnold Schoenberg’s Son (Was My Math Teacher)” is a freewheeling romp underscored by Wilson’s rubato pulse, with Lederer on clarinet and Saft flashing some spiky organ chops. Saft is further highlighted on an aggressive piano salvo on “Snake in the Blackberry Patch,” which finds Lederer stretching frantically on soprano sax. By contrast, the band’s take on Paul Bley’s Ayler tribute number “Albert’s Love Theme” is a dark whisper with Wilson setting the sensitive tone on brushes.
Lederer flaunts audacious clarinet chops on “Arshawsky,” his quirky tribute to clarinet virtuoso and swing-era bandleader Artie Shaw, and he digs deep on the old-time spiritual number “Break Bread Together,” which includes a profoundly deep bass solo by Williams. Another highlight is the trance-like “Turiyasangitananda,” named for Alice Coltrane and based on some of the Hindustani devotional songs Lederer remembers hearing at her ashram family concerts while growing up in Los Angeles.