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Holy Ghost Cast Recording

4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Cast Recording, 2004
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$220.00 $199.00

Editorial Reviews

208 pg. full-color hardbound book with essays by Amiri Baraka, Val Wilmer and other Ayler scholars. Includes unpublished photos and family memorabilia, artist testimonials of first encounters with Ayler's music and an exhaustive chronology of Ayler's performance activities.

Product Details

  • Audio CD: 208 pages
  • 208 pages
  • Number of Discs: 9
  • Format: Cast Recording
  • Label: ESP-Disk
  • ASIN: B0002SVU7W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,835 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Like many fans of Albert Ayler, I had been waiting for this set to be released ever since I initially heard about it a year ago. Well, it was certainly worth the wait. This is finally the tribute that Mr. Ayler has deserved for years. Although most of the titans of `50s-`60s avant-jazz have been well documented (e.g., Coltrane, C. Taylor, O. Coleman, Sun Ra), this unfortunately has not been the case with Albert Ayler--until now.

This set, comprised of seven full discs of music, two discs of interviews, and a "bonus disc" (early Ayler recordings when he was in the Army), is a magnificent tribute to one of the major forces in jazz history. Although I had already owned the ESP recordings and the one Hat Hut release, this set by Revenant by far fills in the gaps of his creative history, documents his remarkable evolution (especially from 1962-1964), and features sessions that many people have talked about but have never been able to hear until now. Some of these rare gems include the following: his performance of "Four" with Cecil Taylor and the legendary Jimmy Lyons in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1962; his performance with Pharoah Sanders in Jan 1968 in NYC; and his performance with Sam Rivers, among others, at Town Hall in 1969. That such historical works have finally been released after so many decades is reason to rejoice.

As for the packaging, the set features a nice plastic "spirit box" which holds all the goodies, including a 208 page hardback book that is the most comprehensive look into the career of Albert Ayler to date. It is filled with insightful commentary from people who had performed with him or knew him. Inside the box are paper reproductions of concert flyers, a magazine, a hand-written note, and a photo of young Albert.
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Format: Audio CD
An undertaking of epic proportions, "Holy Ghost" seeks to fill the holes in Albert Ayler's legacy. In many ways, it's really quite unfortunate this wasn't released as a series of indepedent albums, as this would have likely gone further towards exposing Ayler to a wider audience. Still, the whole package is so lovely, and the amount of superb music in here is so high that for any Ayler fan who doesn't have this, let me offer this up front: go out and get it, you won't regret. The set itself consists of nine CDs (seven of music, two of interviews), a large (200+ pages) hardback book, and several additional pieces (including a "bonus" CD), all of which I'll discuss in detail below.

The music first-- that's after all why we're here. The set follows Ayler's career chronologically, containing some essential early recordings that really help with understanding his development, some reissuing of extremely rare material, and some great material that augments what's already available. As the set moves in chronological order, I will too in this context.

Ayler's early development, prior to the release of this set, was virtually unknown-- certainly the differences between "The First Recordings" (where Ayler was an aggressive free jazz tenor) and the essential "My Name is Albert Ayler" (where he was positively fierce) were hard to understand. This set traces Ayler's development from before any of these recordings-- the bonus CD contains two tracks from the Army band that Ayler performed in (recorded in 1960)-- his playing is advanced, but with nothing to lead one to believe the sort of playing that was to come was in him, I expect.
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Format: Audio CD
First of all the packaging is some of the best in history. It's a hard box. Inside are 10 CD's, a hardcover book, a photo of young Ayler, a facsimile of a note written on a notepad from Copenhagen, a partial reprint of LeRoi Jones' fanzine "Cricket", reprint of a concert poster from Slugs, a fascimile of a Paul Haines treatise on Ayler, and a dried flower (significance of this unknown). So although it's an expensive item, Revenant have gone out of their way to give value.

As far as the music is concerned, for those familiar with his available recorded work this is an exhaustive collection of previously unreleased material. It spans from his Army days to shortly before his death. The recording from John Coltrane's funeral, the Cecil Taylor track and a few others have already reached legendary status as bootlegs.

For those who have yet to experience Ayler's music this would be a good place to start because it covers the entire span of his recording career and is actually a pretty good sampling of his talent. Another interesting factor is that the recordings cover sessions where he was a leader, sideman, and as a collaborator.
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Format: Audio CD
Albert Ayler's music is, it must be said at once, "not everyone's cup of tea". It is extreme. A tenor saxophonist who played with keening, honking, sobbing emotion, wild and wide vibrato, frenetic energy. His compositions were largely made up of very simple melodies, hymn-like. Some saw his music as like Gospel music for a jazz quartet or quintet. Early on in his all-too-brief career Ayler's character changed dramatically, as if the Spirit had entered into him, and this was seen in his music as well. For many years detractors insisted that he didn't know what he was doing.He remained confident of his purpose. Towards the end of his life he moved towards more popular musical idioms like rock music. Then in 1970 he disappeared, and his body was found in New York's East River. Ayler was to the end a bit of a mystery man.
This 10 disc set of rare and unissued material is a survey of Ayler's music from start to finish.There are some amazing finds here, including sessions featuring Cecil Taylor's quartet and Pharoah Sanders. There are interviews with Ayler on two of the discs. The 200 page book included in the set is a fascinating read in it's own right. With a wide range of contributors, this will probably remain the definitive overview of Ayler and his place in American music.
So, if you know you like Ayler's music, buy this set now, don't delay! And if you don't know, try one of the recordings on ESP or Impulse first. Then, having found that you do, buy it!
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