IAN McLACHLAN: The Coming of Albert Ayler

Born July 13.1936

Father of the silent scream.  Sweden 1961, playing “Jazz” of un-paralleled intensity.

An Afro-American in Sweden 1961.

Collaboration with competent time-keepers.  Others’ material, towing the Jazz party line (J.P.L)

Some R&B and blues projects.  Soon to realise that within him were more melodies than a human could ever brew.  Away with modal padding, the changes, endless conservatoire arpeggios…

1964.  Spiritual revolution.  Beauty was about to happen.

As it was in the beginning so it was in the END.

On went the No. 4 white plastic reed onto the Tenor saxophone mouthpiece – maximum vibrato, terrifying pathos.

Peace goes on the Attack.

The rage of the Horn.

Crack the snare drum, sizzle cymbal skid and scuttle of falling bin method, asymmetrical bombs dropped.  The Bass Drum a deadly cylinder.

The upright Bass uneven, bowing, high arcing a one man string quartet no formulaic backdrops here.

Collective improvisation.  Every sound intended.

Bro.  Donald (Ayler) learns trumpet in 6 months.  They tour.  No cash.

Music is circus whirls of ecstasy, dirges, funeral dances, military fanfares.  Abstract blues, Dervish, Klezmer, upside down swing:  A NEW FOLK MUSIC, NOT FUSION i.e. not music for export.  This was inside him.  He played himself.

A threat to the world order, especially the Jazz World Order.  Tear the walls down M….Fucker.

Ghosts of infinite beauty

Wear the infant Happiness






(some of the composition titles).

However programming the revolutionary energies alongside mainstream artists to pull the punters did him no favours.

Few were prepared to hear his world devoid of fear and hatred where everyone is valued.

Jazz was in crisis.  Many avant-gardists were jostling for first position.  Ayler was more than Jazz, a true Avant-Gardist  out of this world from this world.

1966 Add cello and violin.  Melodramatic and proclamatory.

“There are ghettos all around even in the mind”.

He was not aligned to any one political group.

Just the emotional intensity of the Horn.

“Music is the healing force of the universe”.

1967 – Add bagpipes.  Electric “rock” guitar.  A kind of utopian seeking croon in venues like university campuses.  The sound of Albert spread far.  Mr Coltrane questioned his own approach to improvising; some of his disciples too.

Coltrane helped finance and fix a deal with more commercial record labels.

Then came the soft soul, gospel a polite vocal duetting – “Desert Blood”.

His last days spent in a taxi flanked by two black goddesses.  Face covered in Vaseline.

“To keep the elements out”.

Then the television screen destruction using his tenor saxophone as a bludgeon.

November 25 1970.  His body was discovered in New Yorks East River – “ Water music”

Ian Mclachlan lives in london with his dog and daughter and unpublished poems and rooms full of audiocassette tapes, trombones, euphoniums…incompatible dat tapes of numerous free improvised music performances.

He has collaborated with poet Graham Hartill and Dutch poet Johan De Wit over the years…He is more interested in live performance than the  recorded product….


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