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.
Not technically a jazz album, though it briefly features saxophonist Marion Brown, this is a must-hear in the ESP canon. Billed as an “electric” version of the New York underground newspaper, it features broadcasts of presidential daughter Luci Baines Johnson’s 1966 wedding superimposed over improvisations by Brown and the Velvet Underground, chanting by poet Allen Ginsberg, and a song by the Fugs’ Tuli Kupferberg commemorating Hiroshima Day (which fell on the same day as Johnson’s nuptials).