Albert Ayler

Albert Smiles With Sunny

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Oddly titled, perhaps, but this double disc performs the valuable service of unearthing a 1964 live concert at New York's Cellar Café of the outstanding trio with Ayler, bassist Gary Peacock, and Sunny Murray. The performance is essentially nonstop, seguing from theme to theme with very ample solo space. The music is just about as free and raucous as Ayler ever got. It sometimes sounds as though he's paying the merest lip service to the heads before impatiently investigating the free-form implications of them. Indeed, almost 40 years hence, the music contained herein would still raise eyebrows at most establishment jazz venues. Murray, by this point, is fully into his non-linear, implied pulse form of drumming and Peacock isn't far behind. But it's Ayler upon whom one's focus is riveted, his instrumental voice straining furiously against the bounds of the timeless-sounding melodies he favored, seeking desperately for new footholds. It's at once scary and thrilling hearing a musician put so much on the line, leaving nothing in the bag. If Ayler doesn't quite resolve his issues as forcefully and beautifully as he did on other dates, the quest is no less gripping for it. The recording quality is a little bit boomy, especially the bass, but Ayler fans will find that this is a necessary pickup. The booklet includes some rambling and very bitter notes from Sunny Murray as well as a disjointed but info-packed essay by poet Hartmut Geerken.

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