Spirits of ghosts

Jun 28, 2000 at 12:00 am

Within the realm of avant-garde jazz, the very name of the late saxophonist Albert Ayler strikes fear in the hearts of most modern improvisers. A gutty, visceral player with a remarkable tone and earthshaking vibrato, Ayler helped turn jazz on its ear back in the mid-’60s with his strange melange of gospel cries, wild R&B honks and quasi-military melodies. While this edition of John Corbett’s Unheard Music Series captures an unknown Swedish trio paying tribute to Ayler in 1975, the music is as bracing and provocative today as it was when it was recorded a quarter-century ago. Led by the surging saxophone of Gilbert Holmstron, the Mount Everest Trio unleashes a compelling sound that is alternately over-the-top aggressive and remarkably introspective. With Kjell Jasson’s thoughtful and intelligent bass lines and Conny Sjokvist’s driving drum work, the threesome is expert at stretching time and suspending the moment via original (albeit spontaneous) composition and intuitive interaction. Produced by European sax-improv legend Mats Gustafsson, this reissue captures the blithe spirit of free jazz in no uncertain terms. Although their recording is a sincere homage to the memory of Albert Ayler, the Mount Everest Trio makes an imposing sound all by themselves.

Mitch Myers writes about music for the Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].