A strange Albert Ayler
album from 1967
or so, part of the Faustian bargain of his long-term contract with ABC
's Impulse Records
. Being with Impulse, whose main attraction was the best-selling John Coltrane
, gave Ayler a chance for better exposure than he would have gotten, had he remained in the indie label
ghetto of the jazz avant-garde
. But, legend has it, he was supposed to provide tunes
, with vocals, on some of the records. Love Cry
was the first one, and there were other compromises, part of an attempt to launch Ayler into the wider market of rock
The ordinarily wild dual frontline of Albert, on tenor saxophone, and his brother Don on trumpet, was subdued; the free jazz soloing was almost non-existent, as they merely stated the themes, some of which were "Ayler's Greatest Hits", like "Ghosts", and some merely sounded like older themes. Underneath all that was pianist Call Cobbs, an occasional member of Ayler's group, noodling on electric harpsichord. The closest thing to what the Ayler band normally sounded like came from the virtuoso performances of drummer Milford Graves and bassist Alan Silva. The other members were amazingly subdued, in a perverse attempt to make the recording as commercially viable as possible, in light of Ayler's reputation of being too "out there" for the general public.
It didn't work. A subsequent recording, New Grass, took things further, featuring famed R&B session drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, and Canned Heat guitarist Henry Vestine, with more vocals (Albert couldn't sing worth a damn), and the songs of Albert's girlfriend Mary Parks (a.k.a. Mary Maria). This didn't work either, and Impulse dropped Ayler from its roster. The contract wasn't so long-term after all. He would go back to his free-jazz milieu, attempting to come up with a saner fusion than what the suits wanted, but his explorations would be cut short by his death in 1970.