The Frank Wright Quartet: Blues for Albert Ayler

The Frank Wright Quartet
Blues for Albert Ayler

Blues for Albert Ayler was recorded live in July 1974, on Ayler’s birthday, and his protégé Frank Wright played this set as a tribute to his musical mentor. Played at Ali’s Alley — owned by Rashied Ali, who plays percussion here — this set crackles with energy. It is equal parts ode to Ayler’s uncanny style and sound and an impressive display of the power of Wright’s own quartet. The six untitled movements that comprise Blues For Albert Ayler are vital and untethered, from the drum solo freak-out of “Part 2” to the nearly 24-minute vamping of “Part 5”. Particularly impressive, especially in “Part 1” and “Part 5”, is the interplay between Wright’s screaming tenor sax and the innovative phrasings of James Blood Ulmer’s guitar. Ayler’s own work always had a hint of control hiding out at the edges of the chaos, and this set from Wright lacks that — it is a full-on loss of control front to back — but it’s still an impressive set, one that pays tribute to one of the great jazz eccentrics and manages to show its own personality at the same time.

RATING 7 / 10