Spiritual Unity

Label
Esp-Disk
Release date
1 Jun 2012
Running length
4 tracks
Running time
33:16

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Tracklist

    Track     Duration Listeners
1 Ghosts: Variation 1 11:18 88
2 The Wizard 6:56 16,588
3 Spirits 7:57 20,009
4 Ghosts: Variation 2 7:05 49

About this album

Spiritual Unity was the album that pushed Albert Ayler to the forefront of jazz’s avant-garde, and the first jazz album ever released by Bernard Stollman’s seminal ESP label. It was really the first available document of Ayler’s music that matched him with a group of truly sympathetic musicians, and the results are a magnificently pure distillation of his aesthetic. Bassist Gary Peacock’s full-toned, free-flowing ideas and drummer Sunny Murray’s shifting, stream-of-consciousness rhythms (which rely heavily on shimmering cymbal work) are crucial in throwing the constraints off of Ayler’s playing. Yet as liberated and ferociously primitive as Ayler sounds, the group isn’t an unhinged mess — all the members listen to the subtler nuances in one another’s playing, pushing and responding where appropriate. Their collective improvisation is remarkably unified — and as for the other half of the album’s title, Ayler conjures otherworldly visions of the spiritual realm with a gospel-derived fervor. Titles like “The Wizard,” “Spirits,” and “Ghosts” (his signature tune, introduced here in two versions) make it clear that Ayler’s arsenal of vocal-like effects — screams, squeals, wails, honks, and the widest vibrato ever heard on a jazz record — were sonic expressions of a wildly intense longing for transcendence.

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