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Albert Ayler

Tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler was born on July 13th 1936 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He learned to play the alto sax at a young age. His father, Edward, encouraged his musical interests and was his first teacher. Albert Ayler continued his musical education at John Adams High School, where he played oboe, and at the local music academy. His first gig was with Lloyd Pearson and his Counts of Rhythm when has was 15 in 1951. This led to a job with Little Walter Jacobs’ R&B band with whom he spent the following two summer vacations traveling. After graduating from high school in 1954 he went to a local college but financial difficulties forced him to leave college in 1956 and join the army. He continued to play in the military band and regularly practiced with other musicians. He spent his last two years of service in France and then in 1961 he left the army and moved to California for a brief period before returning to Cleveland.

His music was moving into the free jazz genre but with his own unique style. He was not able to find work though in the US and moved to Sweden in 1962 where he made his first recordings, which were not released until some years later. Later that year he recorded four albums with Don Cherry. In December he joined the Cecil Taylor group in Stockholm after seeing them play at a local venue. He went to Denmark with Taylor and made his official debut recording, My Name Is Albert Ayler in January of 1963 with a group of local musicians. He continued to tour with the Taylor group and returned with them to New York but again financial difficulties forced him to return to Cleveland where he received economic support from his parents before moving back to New York and for a while shared musical ideas with likes of Ornette Coleman in impromptu jam sessions. Through out his life he periodically depended on financial help initially from his parents and later from his friend and mentor John Coltrane.

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