Dave's Rating:


… wild, ecstatic, difficult for the ears …

Who's in It: Albert Ayler

The Basics: The legendary short life of free-jazz saxophonist Ayler was all about poverty and leather suits and then more poverty, some drug use of course (this was a jazz musician, after all) and lots of audience confusion. But none of it got him to change his way-outside-the-box musical ideas. He died in 1970 at age 34 under mysterious circumstances all the same, and this very cool, moving documentary is a crash course in his sound and vision.

What's the Deal? This might actually be a better introduction to Ayler than one of his recordings, if for no other reason than you get to hear his own voice describe it so lovingly while it skronks around on the soundtrack. Meanwhile, it's almost impossible to describe this guy's music. But if you've ever heard John Coltrane's improvisational jazz then take that stuff and set fire to it. It's wild, ecstatic, difficult for the ears that haven't heard it before. Like a saxophone gone insane.

My Favorite Moment: The first time I heard Ayler's music I couldn't stop laughing, because it sounded like he was having the best time a person could have. I still laugh when I hear it. Then to see this one great scene in the film where one of his fellow musicians listens to a recording and laughs and contorts his face with the headphones on was just validation that I haven't been a disrespectful philistine all this time. Even better, moments like this are juxtaposed with newspaper clippings declaring Ayler's music "chaos" and the man himself as having "far-out ideas."

Cool Quotes From the Man Himself: "This is the only way that's left for musicians to play; all the other ways have been explored" and "If people don't like it now, they will." Well, most people never did learn to like it, even lots of jazz fans still don't like the "free jazz" scene, but his total confidence in the world catching up to him is pretty awesome.

Now You're Fascinated, Right? Here's Where to See It: Go to mynameisalbertayler.com for cities where it's playing.


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