My Name is Albert Ayler
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Time Out says
Tue Feb 6 2007Kasper Collin’s excellent, sad documentary film is a tender and slightly unsettling love letter to iconic avant-garde saxophonist Albert Ayler. Largely ignored during his short life, Ayler remains a hugely controversial musician and Collin’s poignant and beautiful film focuses on an eight-year period from his first recordings to his apparent suicide aged just 34 in November 1970.
Driven by the power of gospel and early blues, Ayler played the saxophone with a shattering intensity that has been described as the missing link between jazz and punk. But if his music is troublesome, there is a stark, spiritual beauty and raucous tunefulness to it that is utterly compelling. While an interest in jazz might be useful, Collin’s film is ultimately concerned with the artistic impulse and Ayler’s struggle for recognition, as well as his struggle to escape poverty and his own tragic trajectory.
Bookended by footage of his father visiting his unmarked grave, the film allows Ayler to tell his own tale by making superb use of his voice (culled from radio interviews) and some eerie soundless footage of Ayler staring bleakly at the camera. All this is intercut with interviews with friends, family and musicians and rare live footage of his squalling, turbulent music. What emerges is a moving portrait of a quiet, driven man: a disturbed loner who would stare at the naked sun and saw himself as a prophet; who played, in the words of drummer Sunny Murray (an avuncular presence throughout the film), ‘with love’; and who believed in music as a healing, unifying force, but was unable to heal himself. Kerstan Mackness
Author: Kerstan Mackness
Fri Feb 9, 2007