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The music of Albert Ayler and songs of Xmas


American saxophonist Mars Williams improvises on Christmas songs in the ecstatic, gospel-infused style of Albert Ayler, together with well-known Dutch musicians such as Eric Boeren and Wolter Wierbos.

This concert is broadcasted on Bimhuis Radio

Saxophonist Mars Williams presents An Ayler Xmas, a special project that he has been doing for five years in Chicago, celebrating the holiday season by playing well-known Christmas songs in the spirit of Albert Ayler (1936-1970) together with local musicians. With his expressive saxophone playing, Ayler unleashed the free jazz movement in the 1960s. His gospel influenced themes are a perfect match to Christmas classics such as O Tannenbaum, according to Williams, who will now take on the challenge collaborating with well-known Dutch improvisers.

Because of his energetic style, Mars Williams has been described as a ‘flame-throwing multireedist (Downbeat). As an open-minded musician he commutes easily between avant-jazz, funk, hip-hop and rock. He has performed with forward-thinking musicians from New York and Chicago, such as Bill Laswell and Ken Vandermark, as well as with legendary American rock bands such as The Psychedelic Furs.

‘The band plays those holiday pieces in the spirit of Ayler’s music, blending raucous, keening gospelized intonation, split tones, and high register cries, usually over roiling free rhythm. And like the group’s inspiration, the tunes are often arranged in medleys, sometimes fused to Ayler compositions like Spirits, Bells, or Truth Is Marching In’ (Chicago Reader).

Mars Williams sax, Wolter Wierbos trombone, Eric Boeren cornet, Wilbert De Joode bass, Jasper Stadhouders guitar, Frank Rosaly drums

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