Albert Ayler Day

July 13, 1936 – November 25, 1970


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Saxophonist, singer and composer Albert Ayler was born on July 13, 1936 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Ayler’s religious upbringing set the tone for his later works, which, similar to peer John Coltrane, sought to communicate spiritual themes.

The 1964 LP Spiritual Unity is Ayler’s best known work, and an excellent example of the boundary-pushing free jazz style he helped invent.

His first professional jobs came along in 1952 when he was sixteen playing with R&B bands including one led by Little Walter.

Ayler switched to tenor saxophone in 1958 while serving in the army and after his return to civilian life inability to find work due to his increasing abstract style prompted a move to Sweden in 1962 to work on Danish radio.

Following his return to the U.S. in 1963 Albert Ayler recorded his celebrated “Spiritual Unity” LP.

In 1967 he was asked to perform at the funeral of his friend John Coltrane.

The avant-garde saxophonist was known for demonstrating his highly unorthodox style at times in the performance of children songs and gospel hymns.

Working out side of free jazz for a time during the late ’60s Ayler recorded three albums featuring the singing of his girlfriend Mary Maria Park and his final LP “Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe” with a mixture of rock and jazz musicians.

Albert Ayler disappeared on November 5, 1970 and was found dead in New York’s East River a number of weeks later.

From the Albert Ayler Trio’s July 10, 1964 recording “Spiritual Unity.”


Albert Ayler, tenor saxophone
Gary Peacock, bass
Sunny Murray, percussion

Albert Ayler interviewed by Daniel Caux (July 27, 1970)



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