Healing Force — Music of Albert Ayler
(Cuneiform Rune 255, 2007, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2008-10-01
Guitarist Henry Kaiser is heavily steeped in the allure of classic jazz. As proven by his Yo Miles! joint projects with Wadada Leo Smith, Kaiser has been on a mission to find the essence of the jazz sound, allow sympathetic players to interpret it, and then mold new pieces in the same sauce. Across nine tracks Kaiser, sax man Vinny Golia and Zappa alumnus Mike Keneally lead a crackshot ensemble through the gnarly abrasive paces that distinguish Ayler’s music from any other’s. Golia comes out gangbusting on his co-written piece “New New Grass,” demonstrating an immediate empathy for the catalog backed by Joe Morris’s wafting bass lines. The showcase piece is clearly the twenty minute “Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe,” with Keneally posing a piano phrase and Golia's serpentine swirl of energy before vocalist Aurora Josephson weighs in, emoting passionate phrasing before Kaiser wigs out. The follow-up piece, “Japan / Universal Indian” comes off the best on the disc as the backing musicians root the piece in calm as Golia breathtakingly tears it up. “Oh Love of Life” captures many of the same elements put across by the Tony Williams Lifetime blurring jazz and rock boundaries with Kaiser’s best shard jabbing guitar leads. In summary, as free jazz icons are shown proper tribute, the listener can only do his best to lend a sympathetic ear to a bygone era.
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