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Bells / Prophecy


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Audio CD, June 21, 2005
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 21, 2005)
  • Original Release Date: 2005
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Esp Disk Ltd.
  • ASIN: B0009JPVCE
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,241 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Spirits
2. Wizard
3. Ghosts, First Variation
4. Prophecy
5. Ghosts, Second Variation
6. Bells

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jessamine on January 27, 2009
Format: Audio CD
"Bells / Prophecy" is a combination of two similarly titled live albums. The two albums don't really feel right on the same release, as the line-ups and music are radically different, and recorded about a year apart during a highly transitional period.

"Prophecy" was recorded on June 14th, 1964 at the Cellar Cafe in New York with the "Spiritual Unity" trio of Ayler, Murray, and Peacock. This was less than a month before they would enter the tiny ESP studio and record their groundbreaking album. The music on this date is very similar in feel to "Spiritual Unity," although the trio stretches things out a bit more. I've heard some folks describe it as less a less focused performance than what was captured on "Spiritual Unity," or even downright meandering, but I don't agree with either characterization. The trio is certainly exploring more territory here, whereas "Spiritual Unity" seems to represent more of a distillation of these live experiments, but the results here are just as exciting, although the trio is perhaps not as startlingly telepathic as they are on the studio album. However, they seem to more thoroughly explore some musical territory in this live setting. The biggest drawback is the somewhat marginal sound quality (this was a tape recording of the show), and audience chatter and general background noise (clinking of glasses, etc) is a slight distraction from the music, although the album is not at all unlistenable. The sound quality is the primary reason for the 4 instead of 5 star rating. For fans of "Spiritual Unity" this required reading.

"Bells" finds Albert moving closer to the sound that is so magnificently captured on "Live in Greenwich Village," although without the defining violin foundation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stack VINE VOICE on September 14, 2005
Format: Audio CD
"Bells / Prophecy" combines two live shows, originally released separately on ESP, "Prophecy", recorded in June 1964 for Albert Ayler's then working trio (Ayler on tenor, Gary Peacock on bass and SUnny Murray on drums), and "Prophecy", recorded in May of 1965 after Ayler returned from Europe with an expanded band, including his brother Don Ayler on trumpet replacing the departed Don Cherry, alto saxophonist Charles Tyler, bassist Lewis Worrell, and Sunny Murray on drums. I'll address the two sets separately.

The "Prophecy" show is an exciting one-- Ayler had worked with Murray with Cecil Taylor and on his previous studio record (released as either "Spirits" or "Ghosts"), and Peacock was part of his working band, and it's really a testament to these two men, neither of whom had played with Ayler for more than several months, that they both "get" his music and integrate themselves in it-- Murray presents a framework of sorts on which the other two perform-- implying rhythms, beats, but never actually stating them, whereas Peacock mostly plays counter to Ayler (by their studio session a month later, Peacock would find a way to inhabit a rhythmic function in addition to this counterpoint role). "Ghosts, First Variation" is probably the best example of this, Ayler states his memorable theme explosively and Peacock hangs back, playing a countermelody and letting Murray fill as much space as possible. The performance as a whole remains in this sort of light, and while "Prophecy" seems to meander a bit aimlessly, it comes reeling in on "Ghosts, Second Variation" (which is really a piece called "Spirits" blended with elements of the "Ghosts" theme) in its explosive and exciting playing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Disink on May 19, 2014
Format: Audio CD
Even before Albert Ayler died, tragically, following a sequence of funk and Dixieland leaning albums, people began re-discovering his work. When his death led to an even greater interest in the curious works of this most free of free jazz performers, this led to small labels looking for every unreleased concert recording and early studio session that could be found and rushing them out to get a piece of the interest. That such an interest was never so intense in his life is unfortunate, but among the recordings put out quickly was "Prophecy", about half of a concert recorded just before Ayler took bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray into the studio to record his first ESP record, Spiritual Unity. That session has always remained revered, and many feel it is the greatest half-hour that Ayler ever laid down. As one can imagine, this live session anticipates that one, and those who love the recordings with this legendary trio (or that trio plus Don Cherry a few months later), then "Prophecy" is a must. For those new to Ayler, it's probably better to start with "Unity" and Vibrations, but if those are your thing, then "Prophecy" in one form or another should shortly join the collection.

As for the five star music of "Prophecy", there are some interesting divergences from the forthcoming studio set, as well as a brief look back at Ayler's first studio album, Witches & Devils,which is represented by the track "Spirits" (which is an alternate name for that album).
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