Albert Ayler was an American avant-garde jazz saxophonist, singer and composer.
39 Facts About Albert Ayler
However, some critics argue that while Albert Ayler's style is undeniably original and unorthodox, it does not adhere to the generally accepted critical understanding of free jazz.
Albert Ayler's style is difficult to categorize in any way, and it evoked incredibly strong and disparate reactions from critics and fans alike.
Edward and Albert Ayler played alto saxophone duets in church and often listened to jazz records together, including swing era jazz and then-new bop albums.
Albert Ayler's upbringing in the church had a great impact on his life and music, and much of his music can be understood as an attempt to express his spirituality, including the aptly titled Spiritual Unity, and his album of spirituals, Goin' Home, which features "meandering" solos that are meant to be treated as meditations on sacred texts, and at some points as "speaking in tongues" with his saxophone.
Albert Ayler attended John Adams High School on Cleveland's East Side, and graduated in 1954 at the age of 18.
Albert Ayler later studied at the Academy of Music in Cleveland with jazz saxophonist Benny Miller.
In 1958, after graduating from high school, Albert Ayler joined the United States Army, where he switched from alto to tenor sax and jammed with other enlisted musicians, including tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine.
Albert Ayler played in the regiment band, along with future composer Harold Budd.
In 1963, Albert Ayler returned to the US and settled in New York City, where he continued to develop his personal style and occasionally played alongside free jazz pianist Cecil Taylor.
Albert Ayler began his rich relationship with ESP-Disk Records in 1964, recording his breakthrough album Spiritual Unity for the then-fledgling record label.
Spiritual Unity featured the trio that Albert Ayler had just assembled that summer, including bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray.
In 1966 Albert Ayler was signed to Impulse Records at the urging of Coltrane, the label's star attraction at that time.
Albert Ayler performed with his brother, Michel Samson, Beaver Harris, Henry Grimes, and Bill Folwell, while Coltrane was in attendance.
Albert Ayler first sang on a recording in a version of "Ghosts" performed in Paris in 1966, in which his vocal style was similar to that of his saxophone, with an eerie disregard for pitch.
Albert Ayler continued to experiment with vocals for the rest of his career ; however, his singing on later albums such as New Grass and Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe has been the subject of some derision.
In 1967, John Coltrane died of liver cancer, and Albert Ayler was asked to perform at his funeral.
Albert Ayler came in peace and he left in peace; but during his time here, he kept trying to reach new levels of awareness, of peace, of spirituality.
In 1967 and 1968, Albert Ayler recorded three LPs that featured the lyrics and vocals of his girlfriend Mary Maria Parks and introduced regular chord changes, funky beats, and electronic instruments.
At around this time, there were hints that Albert Ayler was becoming emotionally unstable, blaming himself for his brother's breakdown.
In July 1970, Albert Ayler returned to the free jazz idiom for a group of shows in France, but the band he was able to assemble was not regarded as being of the caliber of his earlier groups.
Albert Ayler disappeared on November 5,1970, and he was found dead in New York City's East River on November 25, a presumed suicide.
For some time afterwards, rumors circulated that Albert Ayler had been murdered, with a long-standing urban legend that the Mafia had tied him to a jukebox.
Albert Ayler took a deconstructive approach to his music, which was characteristic of the free jazz era.
Phil Hardy says that Albert Ayler "dismantled" melody and harmony to more deeply explore "the physical properties" of his saxophone.
Albert Ayler wished to free himself and his bandmates to improvise, relate to one another, and relate to their instruments on a more raw, "primal" level.
The intensely spiritual aspect of Albert Ayler's music was clearly aligned with the beliefs of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, who was profoundly affected by the "otherworldly" sounds of Albert Ayler's music.
Albert Ayler's style is characterized by timbre variations, including squeaks, honks, and improvisation in very high and very low registers.
Albert Ayler experimented with microtonality in his improvisations, seeking to explore the sounds that fall between the notes in a traditional scale.
Albert Ayler resisted the standard swing beat, and instead built momentum through the frenetic speed of his improvisatory lines, which he forcefully overblew from his saxophone.
At no point in his career was Albert Ayler allowed the comfort of a steady audience.
However, Albert Ayler's influence is still felt, and not only among jazz musicians.
Albert Ayler is one of the most revered historical figures in the genre of free jazz along with the likes of Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Milford Graves.
Albert Ayler was a crucial influence on some of his renowned contemporaries such as Frank Lowe, Rev Frank Wright, Charles Tyler, Marion Brown, and Frank Smith.
Albert Ayler developed a close friendship with John Coltrane, and the two influenced each other's playing.
The Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin was so inspired by Ayler's music and life that he produced a documentary, My Name Is Albert Ayler, which includes interviews with ESP-Disk founder Bernard Stollman, along with interviews with Ayler's family, girlfriends and bandmates.
The film includes footage of Albert Ayler and is built around his music and recordings of his voice.
Harper considered Albert Ayler to be "one of the leading jazzmen of the age".
Albert Ayler is the titular 'ghost of a jazzman' in Maurice G Dantec's 2009 science-fiction novel Comme le fantome d'un jazzman dans la station Mir en deroute.