JazzFest History

Albert Ayler

Awarded: 2018
Born: Cleveland, Ohio

"Music is the healing force of the universe."

- Albert Ayler

Cleveland native Albert Ayler is widely regarded as the one of the greatest innovators of free jazz.

Born into a musical family, Ayler performed saxophone duets with his father at their church. Brother Donald would join Albert in a later band.

Ayler earned the name Little Bird, because of a similarity in sound to Charlie Parker. He moved to New York in 1963 after achieving moderate commercial success in Europe.

While not considered a saxophone virtuoso, Ayler's avant garde improvisations challenged and expanded the boundaries of free jazz. It attracted a new and appreciative following of the evolving style, including John Coltrane, who mentored Ayler.

Alyer's passionate, emotionally-charged music became a soundtrack to the cultural change in the 1960s, a period of his most prolific years as a performer, composer and band leader.

Albert Ayler - Ghosts
Albert Ayler - John Coltrane