Spiritual Unity

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

Spiritual Unity is a studio album by 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]


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 City. 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]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[3]
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]

In 2013, Spin included it on the "Top 100 Alternative Albums of the 1960s" list.[8] In 2017, Pitchfork placed it at number 30 on the "200 Best Albums of the 1960s" list.[9]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Albert Ayler.

1."Ghosts: First Variation"5:12
2."The Wizard"7:20
4."Ghosts: Second Variation"10:01
Total length:29:13
2014 reissue edition bonus track
Total length:37:17


Credits adapted from liner notes.


  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. ^ "Spiritual Unity". ESP-Disk. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  3. ^ Huey, Steve. "Spiritual Unity - Albert Ayler". AllMusic. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  4. ^ Richardson, Mark (March 14, 2005). "Albert Ayler: Spiritual Unity / Live on the Riviera". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  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; Morton, Brian (2006). "Albert Ayler". The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (8th ed.). New York: Penguin. pp. 54. ISBN 0-14-102327-9.
  8. ^ Gubbels, Jason (March 28, 2013). "The Top 100 Alternative Albums of the 1960s (page 83 of 101)". Spin. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  9. ^ Schnipper, Matthew (August 22, 2017). "The 200 Best Albums of the 1960s (page 9 of 10)". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 21, 2020.

External links[edit]