Saxophonist Albert Ayler would have been 79 years old today. The style of jazz he pioneered in the mid 1960s was simultaneously sing-songy and tune-based and wildly free-form and out-there. You either love or hate his stuff; there can be no middle ground. I myself find it nothing short of ecstatic, and love the ways it connects to church and marching band music —but often just obliquely.
Ayler, who was notoriously found face-down in NYC's East River in November of 1970, was born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio in 1936. His grave is just two miles from where I went to elementary school in the 1970s; I really should visit it someday.
Anyway, as the headline says, today is this fabulous artist's birthday, so let's celebrate his ground-breaking music by listening to it all day, and all night. The excellent and rarely screened documentary My Name Is Albert Ayleris viewable here.
Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...