Every aspect of Albert Aylers’ Spiritual Unity (ESP) changed my listening life, but the biggest shift came from Sunny Murray’s drum work. I understood free jazz and I understood drum improvisation (I thought), but I still had incorrect notions about drums and time-keeping. Murray took nonstop equal-footing intermingling improvisation to a level I had never imagined. I suddenly realized drums could be melodic. That there could be intuitive mutual timekeeping. For some boneheaded reason I never picked up this obviously crucial disc.
I could not do any better than this.
Except to add a sad note — Avakian lived long enough to see albums and liner notes go out of fashion.
Lifelong incarnation of “indie spirit rock and roll.” I discovered him and Toody when they were playing a Pierced Arrows album at Rockin’ Rudy’s in Missoula and I asked “who in the hell is this dandy item?” It was some early version of Straight To the Heart that doesn’t look like the one you can get now. Loved it, but sat around in ignorance until I read this definitive presentation by Bob Xgau. The double-CD is clearly where to begin, but I wanna snatch up anything I can find by Fred and Toody.
Sure he played a butler, but the best part was that we all knew this was a ruse.
He was there to ladle on a particular brand of dry resentment about race and power and class convolutions. After I visited the place, he seemed very St. Louis to me. (I missed out on all his TV work after “Benson”.) And you have to say he elevated a mystic baboon from a potential nothing-shtick into an essential part of a major Disney franchise. (I argued that was not least because Rafiki seemed like the only character who was remotely from Africa.)
If I had to recommend one album it would be Fully Completely, which I played obsessively for a couple years after it came out. Then suddenly it wore out a bit for me and I haven’t listen to anything by group or solo in years. Much admired his ideals and commitment to Canada-ness — the intensity ensured that I was not as able to get inside it as northern residents.
I knew only bits about his remarkable career. My mother was fascinated by dreams and astrology (thought they were related in some way I could never quite understand — dreams predict the future, maybe). But for her (born 1910) and my father (born 1890) dreams were utterly mysterious, unexplained in any way. (The one item I most wish I could find in my mother’s possessions is her paperback The Dictionary of Dreams — it’s a kind of lost fantasy compendium.) Neither had read Freud, but he’s gone more into the wastebin than I imagined way back when. So Jouvet’s work is very profound.
But why do dolphins and whales not dream?
A very thorough and fair assessment.
When I thought of him at all (very infrequently since I graduated from college) I wondered how much he might have wished to pass from the scene when his empire was, so to speak, more potent portent than it became.
The aspect I respected and praised throughout was that he paid writers and artists serious money — I didn’t care about the motives, it elevated the game.
A sharp, more corrosive remembrance jam.