Spiritual Unity

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Spiritual Unity
Studio album by Albert Ayler Trio
Released 1965 (1965)
Recorded July 10, 1964
Genre Free jazz
Length 29:13
Label ESP-Disk
Producer Bernard Stollman
Albert Ayler Trio chronology
Spiritual Unity
New York Eye and Ear Control
(1964)New York Eye and Ear Control1964

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 most famous 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
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[3]
Pitchfork Media (9.3/10)[4]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide 5/5 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
Recorded in New York, July 10, 1964



  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. (Editor) (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.