Happy birthday to one of my all time favorites, the radical tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler, a man who brought his biting R&B/gospel tone to the intergalactic free jazz world and pushed the music to it's freaky limits.
Born in that storied freak-music town of Cleveland OH, he was inspired by the church before joining Little Walter's band in '52. A stint in the military found Stanley Turrentine and Beaver Harris as jam partners. He moved to Sweden in '62 and started making albums, as well as a brief stint with Cecil Taylor.
In '64 he found himself in NYC and hooked up with the soon-to-be legendary ESP-Disk, making albums of uncompromising vision and fierce free jazz attack that became immediately (and forever) controversial. With Sunny Murray on the drum kit, this unit destroyed jazz convention while still retaining an ancient-to-the-future concept that called New Orleans marching bands to mind. With musical partners such as Murray, Don Cherry, John Tchicai, Milford Graves and his brother Don Ayler, Albert proceeded to slay all in his sight with his attack over the course of several albums with ESP and Impulse! (John Coltrane was a champion of his music and Ayler sometimes joined his group).
His tour of Europe in '66 brought a violinist (Michel Sampson) into the fold and the next year he played an emotional set at Trane's funeral. A bizarre turn into pop/gospel/R&B and the influence of his girlfriend Mary Maria attempted to popularize his sound. After a brief return to free jazz he committed suicide in 1970, although rumors of foul play persist to this day.