Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, John Tchicai, Roswell Rudd, Gary Peacock & Sunny Murray
New York Eye and Ear Control

[ESP Disk,]

I've always meant to ask music guru and writer Paul Haines about the recording that took place in his NYC loft back on July 17, 1964. Curiosity always told me there was a larger first-hand account of the happening behind this major assembly of players. The record that came about was actually a soundtrack to Canadian visual artist [who happens to be an amazing pianist as well], Michael Snow's film of the same name. It was Snow who recorded the six musicians that assembled at Haines' flat that day. What a sturdy sextet this was. With Albert Ayler leading the charge on tenor, Don Cherry playing trumpet and cornet, while alto player John Tchicai and trombonist Roswell Rudd round up the horn section. Rhythm section that day was made up of Ayler's most staunch supporters - bassist Gary Peacock and percussionist Sunny Murray. Naturally, all compositions are credited to Ayler. Let's not forget this was his gig after all. As is the case with all Ayler recordings of this period, one has to expect a wall of sound. The tenor god did not make amends to anybody. No half-wit compromises were made and no half-hearted passages were played. This is fire music, as extreme as one can imagine. While Ayler wails sweet and rough blows on his tenor, Cherry is in tow with melodies that try to break through the cracks of the leader. All the while, Tchicai's alto playing tries to have a go at the leader in a number of face-offs. Roswell Rudd's trombone creeps in through the barrage of sound mostly when the other horn players allow him some room [which isn't all that often]. Peacock and Murray propel the music forwards, though even these two tend to get buried deep underneath the up-front, in-your-face blowing that is driven by Ayler and company. Flow of the music is quite natural. As the players engage in a head-to-head blowing session, successive minutes go by until a peak is reached. Following this peak, another one is accomplished only a few minutes later and so it goes. Luckily, the themes are drawn out as both pieces featuring the sextet clock in past the 20-minute mark. Though Paul Haines did recount the recording of Steve Lacy-Roswell Rudd Quartet's "School Days", I still have huge regret in not having a chance to get personal accounts of this particular session. To say this was creative music at its peak is a huge understatement. Blazing classic!

- Tom Sekowski

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