Albert Ayler was confronted with a spiritual anxiety that both plagued and comforted him throughout his life. This is frighteningly clear listening to the highly intense musical yin and yang that was present February 24, 1964, when the tracks for Goin' Home and Witches and Devils were recorded. Ayler plays tenor and soprano saxophones on "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Deep River," "Goin Home," "Down by the Riverside," "When the Saints Go Marchin In," and "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen." These traditional compositions are treated with reverence and a lack of improvisation, played in a quietly passionate but respectful manner. They reveal a sensitivity that was obscured with the emotionally charged tenor screeching of the Ayler originals that were also recorded at this session: "Witches and Devils," "Spirits," "Holy, Holy," and "Saints." Black Lion reissued Goin' Home with double takes of "Down by the Riverside," "Ol' Man River," and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." The Goin' Home rhythm section is held together by the gospel-influenced piano style of Call Cobbs. This was the first time the saxophonist had played with Cobbs, who, like Ayler, was from Cleveland and had recently moved to New York. Free jazz stalwarts Henry Grimes' bass and Sunny Murray's drums rounded out the proceedings, following Ayler and Cobbs lead, sounding more accessible than they had on previous recordings. While Goin' Home and Witches and Devils haven't been released together on one compact disc, obtaining both and playing them back to back makes for an amazing comparison in moods and styles.
AllMusic Review by Al Campbell