Holy Ghost! Major Albert Ayler biography out in November

Monday, October 24, 2022

The extraordinary life of trailblazing saxophonist Albert Ayler is explored in an important new biography, Holy Ghost: The Life and Death of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler by Richard Koloda.

The extraordinary life of trailblazing saxophonist Albert Ayler, who remains an important influence among jazz and experimental musicians long after his death, is explored in an important new biography, Holy Ghost: The Life and Death of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler by Richard Koloda, to be published by Jawbone on 15 November.

Ayler's turbulent, often polarising, music career and life, which lasted a brief 34 years, has been subject to myth and rumour right from his debut free jazz recording, Witches And Devils in 1964, through his 1964/5 dates for ESP (including the highly acclaimed, landmark album Spiritual Unity, which featured at No.28 in Jazzwise's The 100 Jazz Albums That Shook The World book) to his recordings for the Impulse! label, which signed him following a recommendation by John Coltrane. These included 1967's avant-garde extravaganza Live in Greenwich Village, Love Cry and 1969's Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe, which saw Ayler's music moving closer to spiritual redemption and R&B (the latter a return to the music he started out playing with bluesman Little Walter in the early 1950s), before his mysterious death in 1970. In May this year Elemental Records released an acclaimed 4-CD, 5-LP box set of the complete live radio recordings from Ayler's last concert: Revelations: The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings.

Musicologist and law practitioner Koloda has spent over two decades researching Ayler's life and music, from his birthplace in Cleveland; to his later life in France, where the saxophonist reaped the kind of praise not always forthcoming in the USA; and to his death where his body was found floating in New York's East River. Koloda has prior form with Ayler too, having been a contributor to the documentary film, My Name Is Albert Ayler; acted as a consultant on the 10-CD Revenant Records box set, Holy Ghost: Rare and Unissued Recordings (1962-70) and as a friend of Ayler's trumpet playing brother Donald, who appeared on a number of his recordings.

The book is a 312-page soft back with an eight-page photo section and Koloda says: "The true goal of Holy Ghost is to draw attention away from the circumstances surrounding Ayler’s death and bring it sharply back to the legacy he left behind. Doing so demands confronting those who have marginalized, maligned, and spread misinformation about Ayler in order to further their own agendas."

Watch out for a major Albert Ayler feature in Jazzwise's special Dec/Jan double issue, on sale 17 November.

For more information visit www.jawbonepress.com

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