Albums by Albert Ayler (Spiritual Unity, Spirits Rejoice) and Patty Waters (Sings, College Tour) are oft-referenced gatekeepers of the ESP-Disk’ aesthetic—you can read more about them in our feature story on the label. But ESP released more than 100 remarkable albums during its first run, with dozens more coming since its 21st-century resurrection. Here are just a few that should be heard, all of which are available either through ESP’s website or its Bandcamp page.
Alto saxophonist Simmons’ first ESP album might have shocked the hard-bop crowd upon its release, but in retrospect it moves in the same territory that Jackie McLean was probing at that time, straddling freedom and structure. The quintet includes Barbara Donald, Simmons’ wife at the time, on trumpet (one of the few female horn players in free jazz) and John Hicks on piano, the latter in his recording debut.Learn more at Amazon!