Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Mars Williams Presents: An Ayler Xmas (2017)

Mars Williams presents: An Ayler Xmas 
(The Music of Albert Ayler & Songs of Chrismas) 

For many years Witches & Devils, the long-running Albert Ayler tribute band led by saxophonist Mars Williams, have existed mostly as an excuse to get together and perform an annual Chicago holiday concert. 

For these memorable concerts, Williams merges a variety of Christmas songs with the indelible repertoire of free-jazz titan Ayler, who brought a scalding intensity to tunes rooted in gospel and spirituals. It may sound silly, but the performances are no joke, and they produce a seriously joyful noise. The band tackles warhorses like “O Tannenbaum” and “12 Days of Christmas” in the same smoldering fashion as their take on Ayler: the rhythm section bubbles and generates a kind of levitating intensity during the wonderfully expressive, multilinear theme statements, while the horns state familiar melodies in loose cries and the embellished lines of each player pull apart and coalesce in a naturalistic frenzy. Williams designs clever medleys that appropriate the pulse and feel of particular Ayler tunes as the band rips through a greatest-hits lineup of holiday tracks. - Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

1. Ma'oz Tzur (Hanukkah) - Truth Is Marching In - Jingle Bells 14:21
2. O Tannenbaum - Spirits - 12 Days Of Xmas 08:34
3. Angels We Have Heard On High - Omega Is Alpha 08:34

Josh Berman – Cornet
Fred Lonberg-holm - Cello
Jim Baker – Piano, Arp Synth, Viola
Kent Kessler - Bass
Brian Sandstrom – Bass, Guitar, Trumpet
Steve Hunt – Drums, Percussion