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Albert Ayler: Live in Greewich Village: Complete Impulse Recordings

The latest batch of Impulse! reissues is mainly comprised of titles combining tracks from more than one LP. Only Marion Brown’s Three for Shepp and George Russell’s New York, N.Y. (originally released on Decca) merely replicate the original album. The repackaging strategies range from collecting materials scattered throughout the label’s ’70s two-fer anthologies to joining two largely unrelated sessions led by different musicians. While a few questions are raised by these processes, a significant chunk of the Impulse! New Thing legacy has nevertheless been restored to print.

Albert Ayler’s Live in Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings truly benefits from 20-bit remastering. The cleaner sound sharpens the clarion quality of the saxophonist’s unisons with trumpeter Don Ayler and violinist Michel Sampson. The unmuddied low end allows for cellist Joel Freedman and bassists Henry Grimes and Alan Silva, who alternate teaming with Bill Folwell, to be heard, and not just felt. The stylistic contrasts between drummers Sunny Murray and Beaver Harris are more crisply delineated (Murray is featured on the first of the ’67 sessions, Harris on the other two). The enhanced sound reveals the improvisations linking Ayler’s patchworks of hymns, children’s songs, and folk melodies to be more crafted than is generally accepted, which, in turn, makes the ecstatic message of Ayler’s music all the more clear.

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