Moment's Notice

Reviews of Recent Media


Albert Ayler
La Cave Live Cleveland 1966 Revisited
ezz-thetics 2-1123

“… because in Cleveland we jam; we play as we feel and you don’t read from paper.” So said Albert Ayler, qualifying his initiation into written music in the U.S. Army after having quit his hometown aged 22 in 1958. Eight years later, in April 1966, after extended tours of Europe (military and musical) and downtown bohemia – after howling his way into the heart of the New Black Music – Ayler was back home in Cleveland. And in Cleveland he jammed – this time in a club called La Cave, in the company of his brother Donald (trumpet), Frank Wright (tenor), Michel Samson (violin), Mutawef A. Shaheed credited as Clyde Shy (double bass), and Ronald Shannon Jackson (drums). The occasion was recorded, long lost, released in the 2004 Holy Ghost boxset on Revenant, and has now been remastered and reissued here for the first time as a standalone double CD on ezz-thetics’ Revisited series. Another “rumor” (as Amiri Baraka called all Ayler records) set loose in the world.

These recordings contain the essence of Ayler’s marching music: themes that never give up, that defy their self-imposed disintegration. Songs that implode, detonate average distinctions, emit unrelenting sparks of darkness. Shrieks and moans along a knife-edge of agony and joy. Strings that ooze hot dissonance behind a ragged flaming battering ram of breath. Horns that coil. The avant-garde melted down by the heat of history unhinged: the door is off its hinges, the frame is wide open, the Holy Ghost steps right through with the last angel of history flying out the bell of his horn.


Albert and Donald Ayler, La Cave 1966 Courtesy of ezz-thetics

My ears are damaged at the moment, so, however perversely, I had to listen to these CDs quietly – “fanfares so near that they seemed far away and almost inaudible,” as one of Kafka’s canine narrators said of a mysterious pack of musical dogs. None of the music’s frankly affirmative ambiguity was dulled by dimming the volume. Instead, the effect of aural distance heightened the strange promise and obscure terror of the far-flung noises the recordings contain. At range as up close, the ensemble’s spangled ditties display an impossible meld of melodic fatalism and rhythmic-timbral willpower. The mass of contorted hymns, of wrung prayers and dilated nursery rhymes – demonic and divine – express, crush perhaps, that utmost contradiction of freedom and necessity. The ceaseless melodic resolutions – fatalistically determined by tonality – are torn apart by timbre, ripped up by rhythm, shattered into sheer sound. Total consonance is rendered starkly dissonant. The key is blown up from inside out, the scale split apart along sonic seams. To paraphrase an essay title from Danny Hayward’s Wound Building, we could call it “ingrown diatonicism.” On La Cave Live, Ayler and his group push this particular method to special heights. It is a rumor to listen to.
–Gabriel Bristow


Intakt Records

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