If you are feeling particularly musically adventurous then this -
Might blow your mind, whatever music you like and however brave you feel.
Under the power of Y (an ancient symbol of for the rising spirit of man no less) the Albert Ayler trio play one of their masterworks – Ghosts (First variation) for you.
It has the power to surprise and scare even today as Ayler’s amazing saxophone playing erupts in a series of honks and screeches – simultaneously channeling marching bands, the blues, gospel, Africa the motherland, and raw energy – across the skittishly amazing drumming of Sonny Murray. To say drumming is limiting it, percussion might be fairer. Gary Peacock somehow anchors the music (if its called that, fireburst might be better) on bass. Its quite a piece of work and you may well find it impossible even now. “The sound” – as the brilliant critic Amiri Baraka wrote “was literally devastating. It wailed and wawed, not a scram, but something nature only sowed the seeds of, like the singing from a black hole”.
Maybe something like a Skrillex of the day. But with no sales. And no exposure. But the same sense that if you don’t like it, you hate it.
Ayler, pictured up the top with his famous half white half black beard, was a jazz evangelist and a groundbreaker. He made some other pretty extreme and remarkable records. But I’d be lying if I said I thought he topped the one above “Spiritual Unity” (ESP disc) in any way. It seemed to channel some vital force that makes it more real than almost – well – anything actually.
He died age 34. His body was found washed up on a bank of the Hudson River in New York. At the time it was rumoured he had been killed as part of a plot against radical black musicians, or something just as strange. Could have been Sun Ra’s aliens perhaps? Maybe the tune police got him? But the best story of all was that he had fallen out over money with a junior mafia associate who had thrown him in, tied to a jukebox.
That wouldn’t be a cool accident at all.
PS. Amiri Baraka’s (Leroi Jones is his pre-spiritual discovery handle) two books “Black music” and “Blues People” are as remarkable in their way as Lester Bangs rock writing. Bangs liked Ayler too. If you love music go and find all three out. This was a time when music writing allowed eulogy and honesty.