Albert Ayler’s “Revelations” Reviewed

Source: The New Yorker.

The music of Albert Ayler—who died in 1970, at the age of thirty-four—is the ne plus ultra of jazz. He did for music what Jackson Pollock did for painting and, like Pollock, he didn’t live long enough to show all he could do with the familiar forms gone. Ayler, whose recording career began in 1962, jettisoned foot-tapping rhythm, tonality, and chord structure; above all, however, he jettisoned moderation. His performances were of an unprecedented vehemence. Anyone can noodle without structure, but Ayler turned his whirlwind fervor into a form in itself. In the last few years of his life, he was searching for new styles, and his search, documented in a series of commercial releases from 1968 onward, has left a sense of frustration—of an unresolved and even desperate quest.