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Thursday, 27 August 2009

Albert Ayler and Don Cherry - 'Vibrations' (Freedom)

This is one of those questionably packaged CDs that gives equal creedence to Don Cherry though he's not really there the whole time, and the cover art is just Ayler anyway. But in 1964 Cherry was much more established than young upstart Albert so I understand the need to bill things this way. This is the Spiritual Unity trio with Cherry coming in on his cornet or trumpet or whatever it was; so I've always taken this as a live document of the group in 1964, with some hints at the great trumpet/sax interplay to later come with Albert started playing with his brother. We get 'Ghosts' twice, sounding like an increasingly darker part of the yard where these musicians are chassing an errant whiffleball. But 'Holy Spirit', coming at the end of the first half, is a real scorcher. Opening with an atonal convergence of brass birds, it develops into an open yet passionate piece that swerves towards chaos but is continually pulled back into check by it's melodies. Gary Peacock kicks out some deep, thick bowing near the end; the piece grinds to statis after this. The second half has the title track and 'Mothers'; Cherry is fast and wispy but Albert steals the show. This is a live recording so it's hard to know what sort of room they played in, but Ayler sounds like he's playing through a SpaceEcho pedal or something. I guess this is just his magic vibrato occasionally repeating itself to the furthest horizons.

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