Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Free Five: A Choice Quintet of ESP-Disk’ Releases

Here are five albums from the ESP label that should be heard

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.

Various Artists: The East Village Other (1966)

Various Artists: <i>The East Village Other</i> (1966)

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).

The History of ESP-Disk’

Mike Shanley

Mike Shanley has been a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh and gladly welcomes any visitors to the city, most likely with a cup of coffee in one hand. Over the years, he has written for several alternative weekly papers and played bass guitar in several indie rock bands. He currently writes for the bi-weekly paper Pittsburgh Current and maintains a blog at