Mars Williams – “Mars Williams Presents: An Ayler Xmas” (Soulwhat Records, 2017)

“Mars Williams Presents: An Ayler Xmas” is a new avant-garde jazz album released on October 29 by “Soulwhat Records”. This album is a synthesis between avant-garde jazz legend Albert Ayler original compositions and various Christmas songs arranged by jazz saxophonist Mars Williams. Gorgeous, joyful and interesting album was recorded by a group of masterful improvisers – it’s Mars Williams (saxes, toy instruments), Josh Berman (cornet), Fred Lonberg-holm (cello), Jim Baker (piano, arp synth, viola), Kent Kessler (bass), Brian Sandstrom (bass, guitar, trumpet) and Steve Hunt (drums, percussion). The ensemble of experienced jazz musicians play original, dynamic and interesting music. All musicians have original playing manner, unique style and sound, they also like to experiment in all musical language elements. The music played ny this ensemble has many different styles in it – avant-garde jazz, specific and unique playing style elements, own and original playing by each musician of ensemble always make interesting and innovative sound of their compositions. Musicians had been improvising together many times in the past – spontaneous and unpredictable improvisations and imventive musical decisions are the main elements of their compositions.

This album has joyful, interesting and vivacious sound. Various elements from the famous and original compositions by Albert Ayler are the main and the most important element of these improvisations. Avant-garde jazz legend Albert Ayler had formed asic elements of free jazz and created his own and original playing style, manner and sound. His playing style was especially energetic, dynamic and expressive. The avant-garde jazz, spirituel, gospel, bebop, hard-bop and other modern jazz styles elements were masterfully and marvelously combined in his compositions. Albert Ayler improvisations had free structure, were based on spontaneous musical decisions and innovative ways of playing. Wild fast solos, extremely energetic, furious and sharp sound also was very important element of his improvisations. Saxophonist Mars Williams masterfully combined unique Albert Ayler improvisations, popular Christmas melodies and his own playing style and manner into one composition. His playing is highly effecting whole sound of the album – it brings to the improvisations very energetic, ynpredictable and surprising sound. All musicians of the ensemble are improvising free, wild and spontaneous. They effectively combine together such popular Christmas songs themes as “O Tannenbaum”, “Jingle Bells”, “12 Days of Christmas” with avant-garde jazz elements and organically integrate it into Albert Ayler music. The main themes of the songs are strongly modified and have absolutely different sound – these compositions are full of sharp, aggressive and dynamic harmony, constantly changing rhythmic, free form and structure, spontaneous and rigorous improvisations and unusual instrumentation decisions. The high variety of various unusual timbres and sounds create colouristic and vivacious sound. Various extraordinary and innovative playing techniques are used to create wide range of different colors sounds and timbres. The musicians inventively and creatively modify well-known Christmas songs melodies to almost unrecognizable and stunning improvisations. The main elements of Albert Ayler compositions remain the most important part of the compositions and are always heard very solid and strongly. The masterful sunthesis of avant-garde jazz elements, inidividual and own playing styles of each musician of this ensemble, professionally written compositions and stunning improvising create astonishing and effective sound of this album.


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