ALBERT AYLER — Reevaluations: The Impulse Years (review)

ALBERT AYLER — Reevaluations: The Impulse Years album cover Boxset / Compilation · 1973 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
Reevaluations: The Impulse Years” is of course a collection of Albert Ayler’s work on the Impulse label, the label he was on for the last part of his life before his untimely death. Many devoted fans of Ayler and avant-garde “purists” often denounce his work on Impulse for straying too far from the classic free jazz he helped invent in the early 60s. Certainly this collection of tracks makes for a bizarre and eclectic mix, and actually there is no shortage of free range blowing on here, its just that on his Impulse albums he started to introduce elements into his music that proved a little much for his earlier fans. One of the biggest complaints with Ayler’s Impulse work involves his use of vocalists. Certainly avant-garde jazz vocals can be an acquired taste and a hard sell, but you can’t be surprised that Ayler’s restless spirit would want to try new things. The vocals on here range form theatric declarations (“Again Comes the Rising of the Sun”), stately atonal melodies in semi-operatic style, free jazz vocalizing and some echoed chant at the beginning of “New Ghosts” that had me thinking early Funkadelic or Pink Floyd.

Other complaints about Ayler’s Impulse work includes use of unorthodox instruments such as the electric harpsichord and the introduction of RnB into his music. Ayler’s attempts at RnB have been called commercial sell-outs, but there is absolutely nothing commercial about Alyer’s expressive gritty take on this music. First of all, Ayler’s late 60s RnB recordings sound nothing like the sophisticated soul music of the time, but instead hark back to an older era of gut bucket blues and New Orleans drum line shuffles. Ayler’s playing on these cuts is bold and uncompromising as he recreates the raw sound of a bygone era in rowdy club music. Although purists of either genre might not appreciate this mix of avant-garde and down home barroom rowdiness, in reality, once its late at night and the musicians are sauced and the crowd is feisty, this is often the sort of noise you hear coming from dives and juke joints all around the world. Ayler’s rough take on RnB can also be seen as an important predecessor to the “free-funk” scene that would come later from Ornette Coleman and Blood Ulmer.

There is an interesting variety to this album, along with the vocal numbers and rough hewn RnB you also get some classic Ayler free sessions performing in interesting ensembles such as “For John Coltrane” which pairs Albert with three string players in a thoughtfully restrained live performance. The big plus throughout this collection is of course the big bold sound of Ayler’s tenor saxophone. Albert never compromised and remains one of the most original and innovative voices in jazz ever.
Share this review

Review Comments

Post a public comment below | Send private message to the reviewer
Please login to post a shout
No shouts posted yet. Be the first member to do so above!

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
CHARLES MINGUS
Buy this album from our partners
Blue Train Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners
My Favorite Things Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

Visions Of Light Jazz Related Electronica/Hip-Hop
ISHMAEL ENSEMBLE
Buy this album from MMA partners
Serendipity Post Bop
JOHN STEIN
Buy this album from MMA partners
Midnight In Europe Fusion
ZZ QUARTET
Buy this album from MMA partners
Dots Pieces For Percussion And Woodwinds Avant-Garde Jazz
ROSCOE MITCHELL
Buy this album from MMA partners
Scott Reeves Quintet : The Alchemist Hard Bop
SCOTT REEVES
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Jazz Online Videos

Dancing with the Widow St. James
CHRIS SAUNDERS BAND / CHRIS SAUNDERS BIG SKIN
js· 8 hours ago
Novemberlicht
FLORIAN WILLEITNER
js· 1 day ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Jazz News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us