Free Jazz On Film: New York Ear and Eye Control


New York Ear and Eye Control


July 17, 1964, ESP 1016

  1. Don’s Dawn            0:57
  2. AY                         20:17
  3. ITT                         22:05

This Canadian film classic, by musician/sculptor Michael Snow, is an art film based on an image of pianist Carla Bley, and the accompanying soundtrack (featuring saxophonist Albert Ayler) was recorded in the New York loft of poet Paul Haines on July 17th, 1964. It was then released as an album, and in many circles is considered a classic work of free improvisation – what the liner notes call a missing link between Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz and John Coltrane’s Ascension. It was also recorded 7 days after Ayler had gone into the studio and recorded his American debut album Spiritual Unity with Gary Peacock on bass, and Sunny Murray on drums. Considering the ubiquity of Peacock’s standard work with the Keith Jarrett Trio, it is always nice to see younger jazz musicians discover his more adventurous work with Don Cherry, Albert Ayler, Tony Williams et al.

And though it has not ended up having the mainstream notoriety of recordings by Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane and others in the free jazz or free improvisation pantheon, this recording is highly valued and discussed among musicians and collectors and, much like the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s Les Stances du Sophie (or Ornette Coleman’s contributions to Howard Shore’s score for Naked Lunch), represents a brilliant, albeit rare example of free improvisation on film.


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