In the mid-’60s, Albert Ayler found himself at the center of major transformations within jazz. On his albums for ESP-Disk’, his delivery was radically aggressive and his tone blistering—aiming for something beyond the New Thing. His music would be further energized when (at the behest of John Coltrane) Bob Thiele signed him to Impulse! As Ayler told The Plain Dealer at the time, “It’s not about notes anymore. It’s a sound—a feeling. The approach we’re taking will discontinue the use of the word ‘jazz.’”
In Greenwich Village, Ayler’s first LP on Impulse!, perfectly captures the Cleveland-born saxophonist’s radiant intensity. Sourced from a pair of live engagements—February ’67 at the Village Theatre on New York’s Lower East Side and December ’66 at the Village Vanguard—these recordings show an improved clarity in production and performance.
Both sets feature two basses (including Alan Silva and Henry Grimes) which allowed the ensemble to go in different harmonic directions while maintaining an organic unity. Of particular interest are “For John Coltrane,” a tribute to Ayler’s mentor who would pass later that year, and “Truth Is Marching In” where trumpeter Donald Ayler joins his brother to celebrate and ultimately deconstruct several jazz traditions to stunning effect.
Vibrant in sound and vision, Albert Ayler’s In Greenwich Village is a landmark statement in free jazz and a career high-point for this truly original artist. Superior Viaduct is honored to present this classic album on vinyl for the first time domestically in 30 years.