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Ayler's Wings
Piano solo, 1 Premio della Critica 1991
1991
Untitled Document

MUSICISTI/PLAYERS
Giorgio Gaslini: piano

NOTE/NOTES
1° premio della critica 1991/1st critic award 1991

Registrato il 25,26 luglio 1990 allo Studio Barigozzi - Milano/
Recorded july 25 and 26 1990 at Studio Barigozzi - Milan

Ingegnere/Engineer: Giancarlo Barigozzi
Masterizzato da/Mastered by: Phonocomp - Tribiano (MI) /
Ingegnere/Engineer: Gennaro Carone
Produttore/Producer: Giovanni Bonandrini
Foto copertina/Cover Photo: Enzo Pagnoncelli

IL LAVORO DI TRASCRIZIONE E DI STESURA PIANISTICA
Dalla documentazione registrata del periodo creativo di Ayler, gli anni '60, si possono individuare circa 20 temi dell'Autore, che appaiono e riappaiono in assetti diversi e a volte anche con titoli differenti.
In nessuna parte del mondo si riescono a trovare tracce "scritte" o stampate di questo prezioso materiale.
Tanto più prezioso perchè nato e sommerso con I'Autore stesso. Così mi sono messo per molti mesi a decifrare nota per nota queste tematiche trascrivendole su pentagramma fedelmente. Dovetti proprio fare un lavoro di decodificazione delle linee del melos da tutte le dilatazioni, sovrastrutture e mascheramenti ai quali Ayler e i suoi musicisti le sottoponevano. Di questi temi ne ho trascritti 15 (gli altri 5 sono troppo magmatici, indecifrabili e irripetibili) dopo molti mesi di lavoro. E qui la scoperta è stata sorprendente, ovvero I'anima nascosta dell'AYLER compositore del tutto opposta a quella furente dell'Ayler esecutore.
Così, esplorando I'Ayler autore ho ritrascritto 9 di questi temi ricavando 8 estesi brani per piano solo (2 temi vengono sovrapposti ''OMEGA IS THE ALPHA" e "BELLS").
II passaggio dal sax tenore di Ayler al mio pianoforte ha posto molti problemi di pronuncia e di forma musicale. Ma alla fine la musica era lì in tutto il suo spirito e il pianoforte ne aveva esaltato i valori compositivi.
Le parti ''free" sono condotte con la fedelta ally metodologia del "free" ayleriano.
Le parti 'jazz" scaturiscono dagli elementi strutturali intrinseci alle composizioni.
Vi è inoltre una completa ricostruzione armonica e polifonica dei temi. I quali, siamo certi e ce lo auguriamo, possono così essere restituiti al libero uso di tutti i musicisti di jazz di oggi. Questo e altro ancora Ayler meritava e merita.
Giorgio Gaslini

Una sorprendente rivalutazione e un piccolo tradimento sono contemporaneamente in atto in questo Ayler's Wings. La prima riguarda la trasformazione della musica così improvvisata dei sassofonista di Cleveland, delle sue melodie Canto semplici da parere naif, dei suoi voli senza struttura armonica ne tematica in composizioni. II tradimento concerne I'accantonamento da parte di Gaslini degli aspetti teatral carnevaleschi, che sono pur forti nelle enfasi ayleriane, a vantaggio di una rilettura che dà un carattere molto serio ai temi della sua musica, inscrivendoli in toto, e non solo per una componente come vorrebbe una lettura equilibrata, nel mondo dell'innodia. Gaslini, dunque, puntando su una qualità alta di quel che dall'immediatezza espressiva di Ayler ha ricondotto al più meditato equilibrio dei pentagramma, mete in evidenza soprattutto il carattere spiritualistico e universalistico, la pienezza anelante d'amore e la tensione annunciante che nella sua musica sono indiscutibilmente presenti pur se espresse con una semplicità che non esiteremmo a definire pionieristica. II suono estremamente potente, tutto sottolineato e duro dell'ancia del sassofonista, il suo vibrato, che ha un'intensità che da gran tempo il jazz ormai rifiutava, definendola, di cattivo gusto, si trasformano in un pianismo che accentua il carattere meditativo, I'intimismo lirico-elegiaco delle melodie. Con un tocco alquanto secco Gaslini evita che il suono pianistico si sviluppi in quella marmellata di armonici cui si affidano oggi molti dei protagonisti della vita dei jazz, così che non sorprende a un tratto sentir risuonare un secco basso che rinvia a Tristano, assieme alla pulizia contrappuntistica con cui viene enunciata la parte melodica.
Un Ayler da camera, dunque, che ben s'inquadra e si spiega nell'insistente reiterate sfida di Gaslini al jazz per trarlo fuori dal carattere di linguaggio comune, all'interno dei cui confini le espressioni individuali si collocano, parlate dalla lingua, per farne invece campo e seme della creatività individuale, il luogo di partenza per lo sviluppo delle potenzialità del genio creativo e non un repertorio di frasi fatte o di cliches che, inanellati in questo modo o quello, diano luogo a rassicurazioni su se e sul mondo fondate dalla ricomponibilityà e dalla ripetibilità delle affermazioni. Calato così nel mondo del dubitante sapere, Ayler incontra Bach e Chopin, ma da I'addio ai sabba gargantueschi fioriti dal suo sassofono. L'anima focosa si placa in contrappunti meditativi, nell'integrazione tra tonalità, modalità, nei contrasti e nelle distensioni della forma. II gioco della triade acuta di Mi, in Mothers, tra I'essere un senso contrastante con la melodia e il completamento di una frase ascendente; il Bach che s'affaccia sullo stesso titolo, come su Ghosts, il pedale innodico di Holy Spirit come, più ovvio, di Truth Is Marching In; i campanellini di Bells con la loro felicità francescana, determinate anche dal carattere gioioso di Omega Is The Alpha, il fraseggio da mazurka chopiniana che s'ascolta in Angels: questi nuovi sensi sono “il tradimento” . A sue volta questo, però, malgrado lo sgradevole senso della parola, è la via privilegiata della crescita, della maturazione del soggetto nel diventare quel principio d'individualità che si costituisce solo attraverso la negazione di quel che si dovrebbe essere, fare, eseguendo la norma consegnataci dalla tradizione.
Come ogni altro artista, Gaslini dice sì a qualcosa del passato della storia musicale in cui si colloca e no ad altre lezioni, disegna e ridisegna la sua mappa genealogica, diventando.
Le ali di questo suo Ayler non sono furiose, non bruceranno presto nell'abbagliante calore solare perchè esse si muovono nel mondo del notturno, più vagabonde, meditative e sognanti.
Giampiero Cane

Giorgio Gaslini is more than just one of Europe's premier pianists, composers, and bandleaders. He is a conceptualist, one who creates strikingly original proposals for musical expression, intuitively sees unorthodox but ultimately satisfying contexts for familiar art, imagines - and then builds - bridges over aesthetic chasms.
This vision has inspired two previous Soul Note albums, Schumann Reflections, where piano impressions by the German Romantic composer were set into vivid and curious relief when juxtaposed with Gaslini's modernist "reflections", and, perhaps even more importantly, Gaslini Plays Monk.
Schumann's music is frozen on the page, in score, waiting for an interpreter to thaw out its various meanings, without deviating from the gospel of the text. Monk's music, much closer to us in time and temperament, is basically unnotated, part of an oral (and an aural) tradition passed along via records and memories of live performances. Monk's music, too, seeks interpretation, but there are traps and landmines threatening the unprepared or unwary pianist.
To mimic Monk is madness, his timing, rhythmic impulses, and acute harmonic ear are/were unique, untouchable. Yet to play his compositions well one would seem to need to hew closely to the skeletal framework of the originals, tracing the same angles, following the curve of Monk's logic, without losing one's own individual touch.
Gaslini's approach - daring, and uncomfortably but philosophically valid - was totally different. He honors Monk's themes, but was unwilling to merely spin out variations or glib paraphrases of them. Conceptually, he accepted the true challenge of Monk's music, questioning not just what it is, but what it means. He brought his advances keyboard technique and musical knowledge - as well as his feelings - to bear on the otherwise familiar tunes, and recast them in radically bright new lights, causing us to view him, and Monk, and their collaboration, differently. Filled with imaginative responses to the stimuli posed by Monk's conundrums, Gaslini Plays Monk is more than interpretation or rearrangement, it is, in some cases, conceptual recomposition, thought-provoking and musically exhilarating.
What has this got to do with Ayler's Wings? Quite a lot. Once again, Gaslini is responding to an outside artistic - and humanistic - stimulus. And our knowledge of his individual approach to Monk's music gives us a key to unlock his equally curious, initially puzzling view of Albert Ayler. Ayler's music has, of course, occasioned a rash of varied responses, both during the short, turbulent time of his life and the years since his death. Some branded his playing "anti jazz", others heard it as an anguished cry for freedom. His music has been described as full of melancholy and tragedy, or unbridled joy and spiritual celebration. Extramusical agendas have been saddled onto it, calling it the catharsis necessary for the I 960's social and political change, or an internal exorcism of private demons. In truth, it may be all of this, and more. But, though inspired and provoked by the fantastic revelry, the revelation and passion of the extremes of Ayler's music, Gaslini again takes a different tact. He wisely realizes that to attempt to recreate Ayler's music, to evoke the same feelings, to explore the same extremes, would be folly. So, in an act of conceptual tightrope-walking, he draws a narrow line dividing Ayler the composer and Ayler the interpreter.
Few critics have considered Ayler a composer of any real merit. Most have acknowledged his tunes' debt to spirituals, turn-of the century marches, and syrupy parlor ballads, but then focused on how his improvisations destroyed and transcended these melodies. In contrast to Ayler's obsessive, fiery, transcendent improvisations, Gaslini sees Ayler's compositions as genial, warm simple, innocent, and ironic. By painstakingly trancribing these tunes, and basing his interpretations of them on their own inherent character hand those personal elements he brings to them, Gaslini, as he did with Monk, provides us with an opportunity
to experience familiar art from a totally unexpected point-of-view. Too we should remember that, when confronting Monk. Gaslini, as a pianist, was forced to find new solutions to the challenges Monk's particular keyboard prowess posed, and the fact that the originals were conceived on, and for. the piano. But Ayler's music is, for the most part, vehemently anti-piano' his saxophone's microtones and indistinct pitches were (as were the harmonic relationships of his ensembles) an implicit rebellion against the consistent, tempered tuning of the piano and the handcuffs of harmony it imposes. To "hear" Ayler on the piano, convincingly, as Gaslini does, is an equally revolutionary con­cept. Finally, there is the European component which Gaslini brings; his training in, and love of, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Bartok, classical counterpoint, and atonality create a cross-cultural breeding of a sort seeming incongruous to our previous feelings about Ayler.
A few words about the music now, to underline the scope of Gaslini's endeavor. HISS im, as Ayler played it in 1964 on the Freedom/Arista LP Vibrations, is a pentatonic lament. Gaslini institutes his rearrangement game plan by translating Ayler's saxophone cries into piano trills, and orchestrates the ensemble's sound with lush chords and cascading arpeggios.
Mothers, from that same original recording, is aptly titled; a sentimental Victorian ballad to which Ayler's braying vibrato injects nostalgia and a heart-on-sleeve onslaught. Gaslini's chromatic etude-like opening skirts the issue of sentiment completely, though his use of Bachian counterpoint suggests another sort of musical nostalgia. When the theme finally emerges it is romantically portrayed. He even finds room for a quote from a German "spiritual", Bach'sJesu, Joy of Man's Desiring Truth Is Marching In, recorded in live concerts at Slug's and the Village Vanguard in 1966, starts as an involved, spiritual theme given New Orleans voicings by the brothers Ayler, and segues into the march, a stirring call to action, prior to free extemporizing.
Under Gaslini's hands the rich opening theme blossoms with lavish, fully-voiced chords, in contrast, the march erupts into a collage of phrase fragments, and motifs emerge, briefly, out of the flux.'
Ayler's Omega Is The Alpha, from the Village Theater in 1967 (Impulse), features a remarkably flexible, fervent string section (Michel Sampson on violin, Joel Freedom on cello, Bill Folwell and Alan Silva on basses) and a stunning Ayler solo which in tone resembles a theremin, consisting of nearly all nonrecognizable (microtonal) pitches. Gaslini, via overdubbing, combines this theme with one of Ayler's staples, Bells (another fanfare and march progression with a Scottish bagpipe drone), and sows a wild ticket of overgrown melodic weeds, classically phrased, tumbling in and out of keys, including percussion and glockenspiel (literally, bells) chiming like Ivesian music boxes. Angels (from the ESP Spirits Rejoice LP, not the similarly titled piece from The Hilversum Session) is a blowsy '30s Tin Pan Alley-style ballad, and Ayler's tenor bellows and coos, while Call Cobbs' harpsichord glisses add to the fun-house illusion.
Gaslini forgoes this overripe attitude to construct a Schumannesque intermezzo, sneakinq in some two-part counterpoint to help wring the tune of its bathos, and stressing its waltz time, which Ayler's rubato distorts. Gaslini's last chord shatters any final misconceptions like an antique mirror.
Ghosts is another of Ayler's oft-played greatest hits. Often broken into two parts, the opening episode could be a slowed-down calypso. His original version on Freedom/Arista is phrased in a nearly boppish lilt. On The Hilversum Session it becomes a jerky, marionette theme. The live Paris performance on Hat Hut swings a rapid reading (and Michel Sampson's violin adds unrelated, freely associated lines). At Slug's, the word was "fast-as-you-can". Gaslini, conversely, conspires a delicate china-like Mozartean ambiance, changing character for each of the themes, before sliding into a moody blues with noirish bassline, then back to Bach. )Are Bach and Mozart the "ghosts" in Gaslini's conception?)
Witches And Devils, from the Freedom/Arista album of the same name, is according to Barry McRae in the spirit of Ornette's dirges. Gaslini, In his best elegiac/lyrical mode, suggests some Scriabin, some Shostakovich )but at his most Bachian, say, the Preludes And Fugues), and resorts to what is ostensibly a rondo. Finally, No Name (actually, an incomplete take of an untitled piece from Osmosis' Hilversum Session) reveals Ayler the melodist, with poignant twists and turns in a relatively straight-forward ballad style he would soon abandon. Gaslini plays it as an ultraromantic, fleshing out the skeleton of the beautiful but unsettling original, one could almost imagine Tony Bennett finding favor of its weary but wide-eyed demeanor.
If Albert Ayler's music means anything to us today, it is because it lacks guile; it is pure expression, molded into communicative form by sincerity and rigorous, honest, painfully direct emotion. If Giorgio Gaslini has succeeded in revealing a heretofore hidden aspect of Ayler's nature, and expanded our view of his own questioning aesthetic character, it is because he has taken Ayler's tunes and sung them in his own language.
ART LANGE November 1990



 

 

 

 
 
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Untitled Document
1   Holy Spirit 4.34
2   Mothers 5.28
3   Truth Is Marching In 6.16
4   Omega Is The Alpha 3.44
5   Angels 5.58
6   Ghosts 7.42
7   Witches And Devils 8.46
8   No Name 8.13
 
Tutti i brani di Albert Ayler, trascrizione per piano di Giorgio Gaslini/All compositions by Albert Ayler, piano transcriptions by Giorgio Gaslini
 

Angelo dell'ironia
Le tue ali
Barocche
Eteree
Rare...
Terribili voli.

Alte nel cielo
Your name: Albert
Liberano
Echi furenti
Richiami supremi

Angel of 'irony
Long winds
Baroque
Ethereal
Rare...
Terrible flights...

Around the high sky
Your name: Albert
Liberation of
Echoes of fury
Recalls supreme


Giorgio Gaslini

Untitled Document
 
Giorgio Gaslini - piano