|Born||June 26, 1944|
|Origin||Birmingham, Alabama, United States|
|Died||January 25, 2014(aged 69)|
|Genres||Free jazz, avant-garde jazz|
|Instrument(s)||Tenor saxophone, flute, recorder, bass clarinet, piano, vocals|
Arthur Doyle (June 26, 1944 – January 25, 2014) was an American jazz saxophonist, bass clarinettist, flutist, and vocalist who was best known for playing what he called "free jazz soul music". Writer Phil Freeman described him as having "one of the fiercest, most unfettered saxophone styles in all of jazz", "a player so explosive that it seems like microphones and recording equipment can barely contain him".
Arthur Doyle was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1944, and was inspired to play music as child after watching Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington on television. During his high school years, he began listening to Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, and picked up gigs as a saxophonist. While still a teenager, he played with saxophonist Otto Ford and trumpeter Walter Miller (an associate of Sun Ra), and also played in R&B and blues groups.
After graduating high school, Doyle attended Tennessee State University in Nashville, receiving a degree in Music Education. While in Nashville, he played with trumpeter and Horace Silver associate Louis Smith and singers Gladys Knight and Donny Hathaway. He also briefly went to Detroit to play with hard bop trumpeter Charles Moore. During this time, he became involved in civil rights protests. Although he was at first uninterested in free jazz, he gradually gravitated toward it after playing at a Black Panthers festival, having developed a sound that was "raw and unpolished, charged with vocal glossolalia arrived at by using a soft reed and singing through the horn".
In 1968, Doyle moved to New York City, where he worked with Sun Ra and Bill Dixon, and met and befriended saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and guitarist Sonny Sharrock. The following year, he appeared on Noah Howard's album The Black Ark. While in New York, Doyle met drummer Milford Graves, who encouraged him to pursue his natural affinity for pure sound. In 1976, he and saxophonist Hugh Glover played on Graves's album Bäbi, released the following year. In 1977, he recorded Alabama Feeling, his first album as a leader. In the late 1970s, Doyle also began playing with guitarist Rudolph Grey, often in noisy duo settings, and performing in clubs such as Max's Kansas City. In 1980, Doyle, Grey, and drummer Beaver Harris, together known as The Blue Humans, recorded Live NY 1980.
At around this time, Doyle began struggling with anxiety issues, and moved to Endicott, New York, where he worked as a counselor. In 1981, he moved to Paris, where he began an association with multi-instrumentalist Alan Silva and his Celestrial Communication Orchestra, and participating in the recording of the album Desert Mirage in 1982. The following year, while in France, he was accused of rape and imprisoned. He maintained his innocence, and was pardoned and released in 1988. During his time in prison, he wrote over 150 songs and assembled what he called the Arthur Doyle Songbook.
In the early 1990s, Doyle returned to the United States, moving back to Endicott, and restarted his involvement in music. He resumed his association with Grey, playing at CBGB and releasing Arthur Doyle Plays and Sings from the Songbook Volume One on Grey's Audible Hiss label. Doyle also came to the attention of Thurston Moore, who described him as "spitting out incredible post-Aylerisms... Mystic music which took on the air of chasing ghosts and spirits through halls of mirrors", and who would release two of Doyle's albums (More Alabama Feeling (1993) and The Songwriter (1995)) on his Ecstatic Peace! label. (Moore's band Sonic Youth would later pay tribute to Doyle in their song "Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream", which appeared on their 2004 album Sonic Nurse.)
Over the next decade, Doyle toured and recorded extensively, releasing over a dozen albums on small labels. During this time, he played and recorded with drummers Hamid Drake, Sabu Toyozumi, and Sunny Murray, among others, and formed The Arthur Doyle Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. Doyle spent his final years in his home town of Birmingham. He was the subject of a 2012 documentary titled The Life, Love and Hate of a Free Jazz Man and His Woman, written and directed by Jorge Torres-Torres. He died on January 25, 2014, in Alabama.
Doyle was known for his "wild, full-blast playing" and for his unique sound, which resulted from what one writer called his having "approach(ed) his instruments in a manner that makes the term 'idiosyncratic' seem painfully inept." Dave Cross wrote: "His sound is a mixture of African folk song delicacy and pure Albert Ayler overload. His vocal style (both as pure element and incorporated into his sax and flute styling) is unidentifiable and seemingly from an alternate (jazz) world." Doyle reflected: "I had this reed on that was too soft and my voice came through my saxophone. I liked the sound so I began singing and playing at the same time." He also began to alternate playing with singing, shouting, scatting, and chanting, referring to his style as "free jazz soul music". He explained: "You can't separate the singing from the saxophone, you can't separate the flute from the saxophone, you can't separate none of it from the saxophone. It all revolves around one instrument and that is Me, Myself."
Doyle was also known for the poor quality of some of his recordings, a number of which were created on a portable cassette recorder. Alabama Feeling was described as having been "recorded in fidelity that would make garage punk aficionados wince", while More Alabama Feeling was "raw, with pause button slams, Doyle muttering incomprehensibly, multiple takes of shrieking sax power lift..."
In a tribute following Doyle's death, Jon Dale wrote: "if anything, the crudeness, the rudeness of the recordings posit these albums as exalted and exultant documents of deeply personal expression... At his greatest, Doyle was a pure energy source – a thousand shafts of light vaulting out from the breath-sax nexus, and one great, pure and soulful voice, crying deep from the maw, its deceptive simplicity paradoxically singing out the complexity of life on this old earth. And now he's gone, and I don't think we'll see many like him again."
|Release Year||Recording Year||Album||Label||Notes|
|1978||1977||Alabama Feeling||AK-BA||Debut as leader|
|1993||1990||More Alabama Feeling||Ecstatic Peace!|
|1995||1992||Plays and Sings from the Songbook Volume 1||Audible Hiss||Solo album|
|1995||1994||The Songwriter||Ecstatic Peace!||Solo album|
|1995||1995||Love Ship / Mama Love Papa Love||Audible Hiss||7" single|
|1996||1995||Live at the Cooler||The Lotus Sound||With Rudolph Grey on guitar.|
|1997||1997||Do the Breakdown||Ain-Soph||Solo album|
|1998||1997||Live In Japan Doing The Breakdown||Yokoto Music|
|2000||1999||A Prayer for Peace||Zugswang|
|2000||1999||Egg Head||Hell's Half Halo||7" single|
|2000||2000||Dawn of a New Vibration||Fractal||With Sunny Murray|
|2001||1999||Plays the African Love Call||Ecstatic YOD||With the Arthur Doyle Electro-Acoustic Ensemble|
|2001||2000||Live at Glenn Miller Cafe||Ayler||With Sunny Murray|
|2002||2000||Live at the Dorsch Gallery||Carbon|
|2002||2002||Conspiracy Nation||Qbico||With the Arthur Doyle Electro-Acoustic Ensemble|
|2003||1997||Live in Japan, 1997||Qbico||With Takashi Mizutani/Sabu Toyozumi|
|2003||2001||The Basement Tapes||Durto||With Edward Perraud/Dan Warburton|
|2004||2004||National Conspiracy||Carbon||Remix of pre-recorded and live material|
|2004||2003||Your Spirit is Calling||Qbico||With Hamid Drake|
|2005||1989/2004||No More Crazy Women||Qbico|
|2005||2005||No More Evil Women Tour||Carbon|
|2006||2004||Patriotic Act||Qbico||With the Arthur Doyle Electro-Acoustic Ensemble|
|2007||2006/2007||Bushman Yoga||Ruby Red Editora||With Arthur Doyle's Free Jazz Soul Orchestra|
|2010||1980||Ghosts II||Foreign Frequency||7" single (with Rudolph Grey on guitar)|
|2011||2004||Live In Nashville & Louisville||Sagittarius A-Star||With the Arthur Doyle Electro-Acoustic Ensemble|
|2012||2011||In Solo||8mm Records|
|2016||2012||First House||Amish Records|
|2017||2000||Live at the Tunnel||Sinner Lady Gloria||With Sunny Murray|
|Release Year||Recording Year||Artist||Album||Label|
|1972||1969||Noah Howard||The Black Ark||Freedom Records|
|1982||1982||Alan Silva and the Celestrial Communication Orchestra||Desert Mirage||IAPC|
|1988||1988||Rudolph Grey||Transfixed||New Alliance|
|1995||1989||Sun Ra||Someday My Prince Will Come - Second Star To The Right: Salute to Walt Disney||Leo|
|1995||1980||The Blue Humans||Live NY 1980||Audible Hiss|
- Wilmer, Val (2018). As Serious as your Life. Serpent's Tail. p. 364.
- Sharpe, John (February 20, 2009). "Arthur Doyle". All About Jazz. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
- Freeman, Phil (January 25, 2014). "Arthur Doyle 1944-2014". Burning Ambulance. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
- Jung, Fred. "A Fireside Chat with Arthur Doyle". Jazz Weekly. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
- Allen, Clifford (February 5, 2014). "In Memoriam: Arthur Doyle". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
- Cross, Dave (June 2000). "Arthur Doyle - Me, Myself". Perfect Sound Forever. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
- Moore, Thurston (August 4, 2009). "Thurston Moore's Top Ten Free Jazz Underground". Root Strata. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
- "The Life, Love and Hate of a Free Jazz Man and His Woman". imdb.com. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
- Taylor, Derek (October 2001). "Arthur Doyle & Sunny Murray: Live At The Glenn Miller Cafe". All About Jazz. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
- Dale, Jon (January 28, 2014). "RIP Arthur Doyle, Freewheeling jazz saxophonist". Red Bull Music Academy. Retrieved February 3, 2021.