Joe McPhee, Steve Dalachinsky, Evan Parker, Jean-Jacques Avenel, Joëlle Léandre, Sylvain Kassap, Ramon Lopez, Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Simon Goubert, Raphaël Imbert, Urs Leimgruber, Didier Levallet, Barre Phillips, Michel Portal, Lucia Recio, Christian Rollet, John Tchicai.
13 MINIATURES FOR ALBERT AYLER
Recorded on December 2nd 2010 at Fondation Cartier, Paris, France by Jean-Marc Foussat. Mastering: Jean-Marc Foussat. Liner notes: Philippe Carles. Poems and texts transcribed in the booklet: “Albert Ayler à la Fondation Maeght” by Daniel Caux, “Albert Ayler et la baie d’Hudson” by Yves Buin, “Autoportait du Feu” by Zéno Bianu and “As in My Name IS………….” by Steve Dalachinsky. Photographs: Christian Rose. Cover design: Max Schoendorff. Cover realization: David Bourguignon, URDLA. Producer: Michel Dorbon
Track list: 1. Jacqueline Caux (3:57) 2. Raphaël Imbert, Urs Leimgruber, Joe McPhee, Evan Parker (5:49) 3. Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Sylvain Kassap, Christian Rolle (4:37) 4. Steve Dalachinsky, Joëlle Léandre, Barre Phillips (7:41) 5. Ramon Lopez (3:13) 6. Ramon Lopez, Barre Phillips, Michel Portal (4:10) 7. Jean-Jacques Avenel, Simon Gobert, Joe McPhee (3:23) 8. Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Joe McPhee (3:49) 9. Evan Parker (3:44) 10. Joëlle Léandre, Urs Leimgruber, John Tchicai (6:44) 11. Simon Goubert, Raphaël Imbert, Sylvain Kassap, Did (5:31) 12. Joëlle Léandre, Urs Leimgruber, Lucia Recio (6:40) 13. Joe McPhee (5:13)
A very large excerpt from the tribute to Albert Ayler
concert, given at Fondation Cartier, Paris, France on December 2nd 2010 at the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his passing. With: Joe McPhee, Steve Dalachinsky, Evan Parker, Jean-Jacques Avenel, Joëlle Léandre, Sylvain Kassap, Ramon Lopez, Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Simon Goubert, Raphaël Imbert, Urs Leimgruber, Didier Levallet, Barre Phillips, Michel Portal, Lucia Recio, Christian Rollet, John Tchicai.
Would it be that when everything finishes that everything starts? Rather than a postlude or a coda, the five minutes a cappella by Joe McPhee on the tenor saxophone placed here in thirteenth position, sound like a song of love and hope coloured utopia which condenses the invisibility of lives which are here and then are no longer here. From the effervescence of an aviary where chirpings and warbling intersect (from Raphael Imbert, Urs Leimgruber, McPhee, Evan Parker and John Tchicai each sax seeming to seek its place in the mosaic puzzle of the memory) to promising flighty duels, then to a fine line drawn trio – of shivering brass (Cappozo), woody reed (Kassap) and simmering percussion (Rollet) – progressively repeating – pounding towards an exacerbation of a growling or a gentle explosion, a prelude to a dance of words like as many sparks (Dalachinsky) roped together con arco and solemn pizzicatos (Léandres, Phillips). Thundering alternations of the funeral echoes of the talking drums of Ramon Lopez and the deep melodies of a Portal who from 1976 (in Chateauvallon) paid homage to aylerian Angels – placed here, the trio of the basque musician with Lopez and Phillips seems to preface the outburst of husky lyricism of his instrumental counterpart (Avenel-Mcphee-Goubert ), then, as if to underline McPhee’s multi-instrumental expertise, the latter was to engage with Cappozzo in a gay dialogue of trumpeters, a mixture of muffled pistons, effects of breathing and brass tirades with scents of a mini-fanfare. Logically it’s a sort of “duo” that follows: a dialogue with himself, by the saxophonist Evan Parker by means of the virtuosity of circular breathing permitting as always this fascinating diphonism. As for the penultimate phases of this polyphonic hirsutism, fortified by explosions, whirlwinds, chants, howls, bubblings and very high pitched sounds, everything happens as if the last cry recalled, as in a trance, a certain aylerien spirit – did not Robert Schumann write “Music is what permits us to speak with the heavens”. — Philippe Carles, excerpt from the liner notes
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)
Tributes come in many forms. Most blatant is the repertory regurgitation of charts associated with the dedicatee or modern takes on that program. Then comes homage, influenced by the historical figure in question, with works in a contemporaneous style. Finally, there appears art inspired by the spirit of the honoree. It is into this last division that this disc falls, with 13 pieces titled after the names of the musicians, created by between one and five participants drawn from a cast of sixteen. None of them sound remotely like saxophonist Albert Ayler, the touchstone of the project, though each of the players undoubtedly operates in a post-Ayler universe in terms of sonic norms. The collection represents selections from a concert held to mark the fortieth anniversary of Ayler’s death at Fondation Cartier in Paris, in December 2010.
While brevity can be a virtue in improvised music—witness pianist Matthew Shipp’s series of successful albums, on both Hatology and Thirsty Ear, composed entirely of short tracks—the constantly shifting roster here militates against approaching each piece as a building block in the creation of an integrated suite. Consequently few tracks register with sufficient heft to persist in the memory. Of those that do, two are trios. “Ramon Lopez, Barre Phillips, Michel Portal” takes its time and is all the better for it, with Phillips purposeful and taut, while on “Jean-Jacques Avenel, Simon Goubert, Joe McPhee,” familiarity means that it is possible to quickly get a fix on McPhee’s combination of dissonant skronk and impassioned melodicism. But at three minutes it is just too brief. Not unexpectedly, “Evan Parker” showcases the Englishman’s circular breathing which draws forth a panoply of voices from his tenor, recalling a possessed medium channeling ancestors at a séance, in a totally sui generis exhibition which again ends prematurely.
Four cuts featuring voice are mixed. The opener, “Jacqueline Caux,” is a reading of an essay on Ayler by her late husband, while “Joëlle Léandre, Urs Leimgruber, John Tchicai” initially features great resonance from the Dane’s alto saxophone and Leandre’s formidable bass, with the Swiss yapping at their heels, but the synergy becomes less convincing as they commence a wordless chant. “Joëlle Léandre, Urs Leimgruber, Lucia Recio” mines similar territory, although the vocals are more restrained. Most fruitful is the recitation of a poem by New York poet Steve Dalachinsky, incorporating the words of Albert and Donald Ayler, over the bass extremisms of Phillips and Leandre.
However it is the concluding “Joe McPhee” which provides the most touching commemoration of Ayler’s legacy, beginning with almost subliminal breath sounds before flowering in a delicate vulnerable quavering rendition of the saxophonist’s 1970s composition “Voices,” which takes on an emotionally charged dimension as the American blends his voice with wide vibrato smears. His directness and visceral intensity combine in a beautiful meditation worthy of Ayler in his prime.