Albert Ayler - Love Cry

Albert Ayler
Love Cry

Released 1968 on Impulse
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 25/02/2001ce

This was Albert Ayler's second album for the legendary Impulse label and to me it was his masterpiece, Albert's earlier works for ESP were all superb especially the mighty "The Bells" LP but for me it all came together on "Love Cry" which was recorded shortly after the tragic death of John Coltrane in 1967. Coltrane's prescence is all over this record ( in fact Albert and Don Ayler along with Ornette Coleman played at Trane's funeral service), however Ayler does not copy Coltrane's work as much as you would think, Ayler was truly into his own bag and stands alone as the master of a certain style of Jazz that is said to owe a great debt to New Orleans marching bands and death chants. As great as Albert Ayler is his brother Don on trumpet is every bit as great on his horn and a vital ingredient to the Ayler group. The brothers hailed from Cleveland but found their way to New York which was in the 60's the epicenter of the new Freedom Jazz Movement.
Since "Love Cry" has been transferred to CD with some bonus tracks that's the edition which I'll talk about here. The disc opens with the title track "Love Cry" which features Albert on sax with Don adding mournful blasts of trumpet, in the backdrop is very loose percussion by Milford Graves you can also hear bassist Alan Silva tuning up ( on a side note check out Silva's solo album on ESP for a truly whacked out record), back to "Love Cry" this track also features Albert singing in a native tongue similar to Pharoah Sanders on his "Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt" . "Ghosts" is next and it is a very uplifting duet with the brothers Ayler and some spare percussion by Graves, it clocks in at under 3 minutes so it could have issued as a single ( on Venus maybe!). The 3rd track "Omega" is a true gas!, again it features a lively duet with Albert and Don, they are joined by the awesome Call Cobbs on harpsichord, he plays like he just came back from a session on The Seeds "Future" album!!!. "Dancing Flowers" is another short one that is a bit sad sounding it features just Albert, Graves and Cobbs on freakout harpsichord. "Bells" is up next and it is PURE FUN, it features Albert and Don blowing a merry little tune that you can't stop humming for hours after hearing it, I use this one as my warmup music before I play basketball!.
"Love Flower" opens with Call Cobbs playing loose fills ala Sun Ra on harpsichord, Albert plays a soulful restrained solo while Silva plucks away on a seasick sounding bass, Graves also chimes in with nice cymbal work. The first of the bonus tracks is next in "Love Cry #2" which appears to have no relation at all with the earlier track "Love Cry" which starts the disc, this track is a lot more experimental and features some serious elephant honks from Albert while Don is trying to blow his brains out on trumpet, his playing reminds me of Phil Lesh on the Grateful Dead's "Anthem of the Sun" album.
An alternate take of "Zion Hill" comes next which is a pretty loose psychedelic piece with some nice touches by Call Cobbs on his trusty harpsichord, this is follwed by an alternate take of "Universal Indians" which is my favorite Ayler track of all time, the band really cuts loose on this one and it sounds like some of the freakier moments on The Pop Group's "Y" album, I like to serenade my yuppie next door neighbor with this one when he plays his yuppie Sheryl Crow type trash.
The record closes with the regular takes of "Zion Hill" and "Universal Indians", the official "Zion Hill" is a bit more together than the out-take and features some wonderful playing by Call Cobbs on tripsichord. The closing "Universal Indians" is even freakier than the out-take, this is marching band music from Saturn not New Orleans!!!,and a fitting way so close this remarkable record.
To some Albert Ayler's music is harsh but the more you hang with it the catchier it is, I always have this fantasy of taking my boom box and playing this at the beach at a peak hour, yet I always chicken out I'd probably get tossed in jail.
Albert Ayler sadly died under mysterious circumstanes in New York while Don Ayler battled some serious mental problems and was hospitalized, the loss of these 2 kingpins is as severe to me as is the losses of Syd Barrett, Brian Jones, John Cipollina, Arthur Lee and many others. Albert and Don Ayler were 2 of the real visionaries.

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