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Spiritual Unity

14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 26, 2014
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Spiritual Unity, recorded on July 10, 1964, is the album that made Albert Ayler and ESP-Disk famous. Ayler's sound was unprecedented, much rawer than any other jazz of the time. The 50th Anniversary Expanded Edition includes as a bonus the track ""Vibrations,"" which was briefly and accidentally substituted for ""Spirits"" on an early vinyl edition. It is the first time both ""Spirits"" and ""Vibrations"" have been on an edition of Spiritual Unity. All About Jazz says, ""If you haven't heard this record, you've missed out on one of the most profound artistic statements of the 20th century.

Review

"If you haven't heard this record, you've missed out on one of the most profound artistic statements of the 20th century." -- All About Jazz

1. Ghosts: First Variation
2. The Wizard
3. Spirits
4. Ghosts: Second Variation

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 26, 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ESP-Disk
  • ASIN: B0007Z9RAC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,865 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stack VINE VOICE on May 4, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Tenor saxaphonist Albert Ayler recorded many powerful albums in his time, "Spiritual Unity" is probably his first truly great record. Featuring a trio of Gary Peacock (bass) and Sunny Murry (drums), this is a band with a tight rapport who is able to really get inside the music. Murray, one of the true free jazz master drummers, manages to suggest time while not constraining himself to it, and Peacock liberates himself altogether from traditional bass roles-- he plays in a free associative pattern behind behind Ayler. What is most important about this trio is that this is the first time Ayler's band seems to actually "get" what he's doing and he can project with full confidence because he's not being held back by the band.

The best evidence of this is probably Ayler's solo in "The Wizard"-- he cuts loose completely, bringing forth every groan and scream he can coax from his sax before yielding to a brief bass solo. Of the rest, "Spirits" gets a stunning reading, with Ayler's wide vibrato injecting a high level of emotive content into the music and Peacock's sympathetic arco/pizzicato accompaniment really holding firm. Of the two takes of "Ghosts" on the album, the former is much more relaxed, with Ayler's unaccompanied intro and relatively restrained soloing, the latter is extremely aggressive, filled with the idiom of Ayler's music, twisgting and turning and really getting in and around the piece.

This reissue, on the resurrected ESP Disk label, is essential.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Eric C. Sedensky TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 22, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I will start this review with the disclaimer that I am not a big fan of free jazz. There is no sure reason why, but I just don't enjoy free jazz as much as "regular" jazz. That said, this recording has some truly lucid and interesting moments which gives me hope that I will one day understand this music. Ayler is one of the more well-regarded free jazz musicians, probably because his chops are impeccable and his backing band members are only of the highest caliber. (For example, this CD features Gary Peacock, a musician who has been making a name for himself for fifty years or so, playing with such legends as Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, and Art Pepper, among others - hard to argue with that pedigree.) In this work, Ayler has put together some fascinating sonic tomes that allow the listener to "read" them, or, in some cases, be read to. The first "Ghosts" sets a placid, but vibrant mood. "The Wizard" then digs into you, until Peacock's bass takes over in "Spirits", a rousingly subtle (or subtley rousing) exploration of mood through intimation. Finally, the second "Ghosts" brings everything back to the start, to allow Albert to again state a clear theme, break it completely apart into a piled up jumble, then put it all back together again, which is also exactly the effect achieved by having the album start and end on the same song. If nothing else, it is intriguing and stimulating. The recording is executed cleanly, and there are a lot of detailed liner notes that unfortunately focus too much on the record company (ESP) and not enough on Ayler, but which I still found educational. Three stars may seem kind of a poor ranking, but actually, I consider it to be three and a half, and quite high for this type of recording.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Costabile on January 30, 2007
Format: Audio CD
The reviewer "El Lagarto" may want to note that the release date of John Coltrane's "Ascension," his first proper free jazz album and first major foray into the avant-garde, is June 28, 1965. "Spiritual Unity" precedes that album by approximately a year, and if I am not mistaken, Coltrane cited Ayler as an influence which helped vault him into his late period recordings.

This recording is a masterpiece and must have been a revelation at the time to all with open ears. For an even more complete and brilliant document of Ayler's influential sound and immense presence, check out the Complete Greenwich Village recordings on Impulse! That is all for now.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eric Thompson on December 28, 2007
Format: Audio CD
No joke - this is the single greatest piece of art I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. When I first listened to this album, I had had some previous exposure to Ayler's playing, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. But nothing could have prepared me for those first few otherworldy sounds to escape his horn, which gradually transform into the main melody for the classic composition "Ghosts." When I heard that, I stopped what I was doing and my jaw DROPPED to the floor. "This is it," I thought. "I've FOUND it!"

There are a LOT of ways to listen to this album. Most people who hear it interpret is as a release of aggression and pain, but that really wasn't Alyer's intention. He was simply doing the only thing he COULD do, which was to play directly from his heart and soul without any concern for others' expectations. His playing was HIM. Many musicians have learned from his approach and have accomplished great things, but to this day Ayler's playing remains the strongest and the best.

As for the other two players on this album, drummer Sonny Murray and bassist Gary Peacock, I have only positive things to say as well. The sound that this trio attained stands as one of the greatest achievements in music. I'm not going to even attempt to elaborate on this - just LISTEN (!!!) and you will hear what I mean.

One last thought to close out this review: This is the closest thing to pure love that I have ever experienced through sound alone.

But words are meaningless when it comes to music, so I'll cut the jibber-jabber and let's just LISTEN, shall we?
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