Unity [ESP Disk/Mono]
on from a short-lived stint with the Bill Evans Trio in 1964,
bassist Gary Peacock found himself with the Albert Ayler Trio
in 1965. The Spiritual Unity album was the first recording for
Bernard Stollman's ESP-Disk label. The contrast that Peacock must
have found himself in couldn't be more startling. With Evans,
the music was introverted and mental, and with Ayler, it was passionate
and uninhibited. It was also primal, transcendental and revolutionary.
It was completely the other extreme of what Evans was doing with
the trio. If Evans music spoke to you, Ayler's spirit was screaming
at you. Yet its centre was quiet. It had to be because all three
players had to listen intently to each other to communicate as
a unit. It was their spiritual unity. As Ayler said: "We weren't
playing, we were listening to each other."
the leaders of the new music such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane
and Cecil Taylor, Ayler belonged to the second wave and was influential
on even Coltrane. Coltrane considered Ayler's Spiritual Unity
as an influence on his album, Ascension (1965).
was at heart a melodic player and if you hear enough free jazz,
you wonder why Ghosts (the opening and closing track of the album)
isn't a Top 40 hit. Its marching melody is instantly recognisable
and immediately infectious. Ayler played a hard plastic tenor
saxophone and constantly stretched its sonic possibilities. On
Spirits, it sounds like a violin. But what informs the fury of
the music is Ayler's feeling for the blues and spirituals. Ayler
used to say that his music was a cry of truth or a cry to God.
Forty years on, it still is. (10 and more) - Philip Cheah