Saxophonist Mars Williams is back in Amsterdam for a sequel to his concert An Ayler Xmas, a surprising addition to the BIMHUIS agenda last year. An Ayler Xmas is a special project in which he celebrates the holiday season by playing well-known Christmas songs in the spirit of Albert Ayler (1936-1970). After five Christmas celebrations in Chicago it was time for an Amsterdam concert last year, which featured Eric Boeren and Wolter Wierbos, among others. Fragments of this concert can be heard on the new album An Ayler Xmas Vol. 2.
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 Mars Williams, who has promised a new program that will be bigger and more elaborate than ever.
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’s part of the legendary British-American rock band The Psychedelic Furs and has collaborated with many forward-thinking musicians from New York and Chicago, such as Bill Laswell and Ken Vandermark.
‘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).