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

Albert Ayler: Playing It With Love

Donald Ayler, trumpet, and Albert Ayler, saxophone, New York, mid-1960s.
Albert Ayler

There are important jazz musicians who are more talked and read about than actually heard, and one is Albert Ayler. He did not record extensively. He died at 34 in 1970. His music is so radical that it makes Ornette Coleman sound mellifluous. But John Coltrane asked that Ayler play at his funeral, and Don Cherry believed Ayler “carried the gift, the voice, a reflection of God.”

There are people bent on keeping Ayler from fading into the shadows of history. In 2004, the Revenant label released Holy Ghost, a nine-CD box of “rare and unissued recordings” accompanied by a 208-page hardbound book. And now there is a documentary film by 35-year-old Swedish director Kasper Collin, My Name Is Albert Ayler, and an album of new music on Cuneiform, Healing Force: The Songs of Albert Ayler.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.