Spiritual Unity

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Spiritual Unity
Studio album by
Albert Ayler Trio
Released1965 (1965)
RecordedJuly 10, 1964
GenreFree jazz
ProducerBernard Stollman
Albert Ayler Trio chronology
Spiritual Unity
New York Eye and Ear Control

Spiritual Unity is an album by the American jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler, with bassist Gary Peacock and percussionist Sunny Murray. It was recorded for the ESP-Disk label and was a key free jazz recording which brought Ayler to international attention as it was so "shockingly different".[1] It features two versions of Ayler's best known composition, "Ghosts".


The single recording session that resulted in Spiritual Unity was ESP's first. It was on July 10, 1964, in the Variety Arts Recording Studio, off of Times Square in New York. The session began some time after one in the afternoon. "At one point," according to the record label, "the engineer fled the control room for a few minutes, but returned in time to change the tape for the next selection". Although label owner, Bernard Stollman, remembered asking for a stereo recording, the session, well mixed and miked, was in mono. The musicians were paid and signed recording agreements after the session, in a nearby cafe.[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic5/5 stars[3]
Pitchfork Media(9.3/10)[4]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide5/5 stars[5]

The critic Ekkehard Jost wrote that "Ayler's negation of fixed pitches finds a counterpart in Peacock's and Murray's negation of the beat. In no group of this time is so little heard of a steady beat [...] The absolute rhythmic freedom frequently leads to action on three independent rhythmic planes."[6] Maintaining these qualities required deep group interaction. Ayler himself said of the record, "We weren't playing, we were listening to each other".[1] The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested "Core Collection" and awarded it a "crown".[7]

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Albert Ayler
  1. "Ghosts: First Variation" – 5:12
  2. "The Wizard" – 7:20
  3. "Spirits" – 6:46
  4. "Ghosts: Second Variation" – 10:01



  1. ^ a b Wilmer, Valerie (1977). As Serious As Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz. London: Quartet. p. 105. ISBN 0-7043-3164-0.
  2. ^ "ESP 1002: Albert Ayler – Spiritual Unity" ESP. Retrieved April 12, 2013
  3. ^ Allmusic review
  4. ^ Pitchfork Media review
  5. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 16. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  6. ^ Jost, Ekkehard (1975). Free Jazz (Studies in Jazz Research 4). Universal Edition. p. 128.
  7. ^ Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2006). "Albert Ayler". The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (8th ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 54. ISBN 0-14-102327-9.