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Albert Ayler Quartet: Copenhagen Live 1964 (HatHut)

Review of live album from the Albert Ayler Quartet

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Cover of Copenhagen 1964 , album by Albert Ayler Quartet
Cover of Copenhagen 1964 album by Albert Ayler Quartet

It takes all of two bars on the opening “Spirits,” from this Sept. 3, 1964 gig, for the Albert Ayler Quartet to establish technical mastery. Gary Peacock’s bass is instantly embroiled in virtuosic cycling patterns, Don Cherry has traced a melody on trumpet, Sunny Murray’s drums have woven a path interconnecting the interests of the other players, and Ayler is clearly ready to reach for the planets on tenor.

That first cut is an exercise in constant extension, a number that seems to continuously go up rather than out, with a French melody transposed by Cherry—cut into jagged shapes, almost like jazz-quartet cubism. As the liners mention, this is a “customary set” by the band, which is like saying, “Well, here we are for a customary day on Neptune.”

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