Trumpet player Don Ayler’s discography as leader is a floating whisp of air compared the the still expanding cannon of older brother Albert. When Revenant issued the Holy Ghost box the first disk I put on was #7 for the two '69 live tunes by his sextet, "Prophet John" and "Judge Ye Not." The brass blare Don shot out, seemed to slide between galloping swing dissonance and an odd Spanish flare -- a sound that has erupted across Albert's albums with Don as sideman. Outside of those two treats, Don also recorded an album for Amiri Baraka's (aka Leroi Jones) Jihad label. It remains unissued.
In 1981 Don went to Florence, Italy, did some shows and the result was a triple LP set, Don Ayler In Florence 1981 on the local Frame label. The entire July 18 concert at Theatre Andromeda is included on the six-sides. Why these LPs have not been reissued -- who knows. Though for those expecting the squeal and squawk of Albert or that barely harnessed ecstatic pulse peeked at in the Holy Ghost be aware that those flares are sparse. Nonetheless, Donald sounds pretty damn strong at times. Possibly his last recorded date?
The line-up for the concert is: Don Ayler (trumpet); Abdul Rahim Mustafa (reeds); Frank Doblekar (tenor sax); Anthony “Tony” Smith (piano); John Davis (guitar); Richard “Radu” Williams (bass); Jerry Griffin (percussion).
From Gianfranco Cascella liner notes: When Albert died under mysterious circumstances Don was silent for many years, and only very recently his painful and emotional voice is heard again. This voice gives sound to the authentic and original music of Don Ayler, lyrical and with the full authority of a jazz-tradition, firmly anchored in the styles of a Roy Eldridge or a Frankie Newton, wedging itself into the bop and post-bop era of a Dizzie Gillespie or a Clifford Brown. In Don we can always feel the presence of the old traditions; whereas Albert expresses himself in an angry shout, Don turns towards a subtle, melancholy gasp, often motivated more by feeling than by formal technique. The drama lived by Don in his music has no longer the tragical connotation of the free jazz of the sixties. His approach is a more personal emotion whose drama results from bad experiences in life, without probing for the cosmic and omnipresent expansion that sought expression in his brother's music.
There has been multiple talk over the years about a Don Ayler book or documentary to answers many of the questions associated with the death of his brother -- when it happens, Patrick Regan's ayler.org will know it first.
Donald Ayler - The Bebop Tune