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Albert Ayler - Live in Greenwich Village (1965-1967) [complete]


Live in Greenwich Village was Albert Ayler's first recording for Impulse, and is arguably his finest moment, not only for the label, but ever. This double-CD reissue combines both of the Village concerts -- documented only partially on previously released LPs -- recorded in 1965 and 1966 with two very different groups. The Village gigs reveal the mature Ayler whose music embodied bold contradictions: There are the sweet, childlike, singalong melodies contrasted with violent screaming peals of emotion, contrasted with the gospel and R&B shouts of jubilation, all moving into and through one another. On the 1965 date, which featured Ayler, his brother Donald on trumpet, Joel Freedman on cello, bassist Lewis Worrell, and the great Sunny Murray on drums, the sound is one of great urgency. Opening with "Holy Ghost," the Aylers come out stomping and Murray double times them to bring the bass and cello to ground level in order to anchor musical proceedings to their respective generated sounds. "Truth Is Marching In" casts a bleating, gospelized swirl against a backdrop of three- and four-note "sung" phrases that are constantly repeated, à la a carny band before kicking down all the doors and letting it rip for almost 13 minutes. On the 1967 date of the second disc, the Aylers are augmented with drummer Beaver Harris, violinist Michel Sampson, Bill Folwell and Alan Silva on basses, and trombonist George Steele on the closer, "Universal Thoughts." "For John Coltrane" opens the set with a sweltering abstraction of tonalities in the strings and horns. On "Change Has Come," the abstraction remains but the field of language is deeper, denser, more urgent. Only with "Spiritual Rebirth," which opens with a four-note theme, does one get the feeling that the band has been pacing itself for this moment, and that the concert has become an actual treatise on the emotion of "singing" as an ensemble in uncharted territories. Throughout the rest of the set, Ayler's band buoys him perfectly, following him up through every new cloud of unknowing into a sublime musical and emotional beyond which, at least on recordings, would never be realized again. This recording is what all the fuss is about when it comes to Ayler. --- Thom Jurek


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