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January 23, 2008

"My Name Is Albert Ayler"

For the last year, Albert Ayler has been very important and influential to me. I was super excited to see My Name Is Albert Ayler, a film by Kasper Colling that the NW Film Center showed as part of their Reel Music Festival.

It mainly follows his brother, Donald, and his father, Edward. The filmmaker also travels abroad and interviews friends and old girlfriends from when Ayler spent time in northern Europe. This showed different opinions and perspectives offering unique ways of understanding Ayler as a person, but also show how he influenced everyone on different levels. Some of the best parts are interviews and phone conversations with the drummer Sunny Murray. He, very charismatically, shared stories of Albert and Donald. Murray talked about the tonal quality of Aylers playing with how he could expand on one note and get so much out of it. "Albert played it with love," is how Sunny referred to Albert playing his horn.

I was surprised that the story didn't focus on so much of the religious or spiritual concepts of Albert, but instead focused on his relationship with his brother and Maria Parks. They continue with how Albert began to be isolated, whether he was causing it or Parks, and how his brother was pushed out of the band, and leading to Donald's nervous breakdown and ultimately ending with Albert's death in 1970.

The Third aspect of the film was taken from audio interviews with Albert, and you hear his own voice, hauntingly over footage, music, and photographs. It leaves you with wonderful insight into his concepts and ideas. My favorite was when he was talking about playing at Coltrane's funeral and he said, "How could I do that, how could I play crying."

2005, Directed by Kasper Collin

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