Prophecy (Albert Ayler album)

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Prophecy (Albert Ayler album).jpg
Live album by
RecordedJune 14, 1964 at the Cellar Café, West 90th Street, New York City
GenreFree jazz
LabelESP-Disk ESP 3030
Albert Ayler chronology
Swing Low Sweet Spiritual
Spiritual Unity

Prophecy is a live album by American free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler recorded in New York City on June 14, 1964 and first released in 1975 on the ESP-Disk label.[1][2]


The album features Ayler's trio, with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray, and contains five tracks representing roughly half of that evening's concert, which was taped by Paul Haines. A recording of the entire concert, including five additional pieces, was released by the German label In Respect as Albert Smiles With Sunny.[3] According to Sunny Murray, Bernard Stollman, founder of ESP-Disk, "released Prophecy after Albert died, without Albert's signature, but because I also had a copy of the same tape I released mine through a company in Germany... as a correct move for me and Al... [M]y tape was better quality than his and also at the correct speed, so mine sounds better."[4] (According to Val Wilmer, Ayler's recordings for ESP-Disk were made "against the advice of Cecil Taylor and other musicians who thought that artists should hold out for a price commensurate with their talent."[5] Ayler justified his decision, stating: "I felt my art was so important that I had to get it out. At that time I was musically out of this world. I knew I had to play this music for the people."[6]) The additional tracks from Albert Smiles with Sunny were also released on Holy Ghost: Rare & Unissued Recordings (1962–70).

The Ayler trio would go on to record Spiritual Unity less than a month later.[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide5/5 stars[8]

The Allmusic review by Scott Yanow awarded the album 3 stars stating: "Ayler alternated the simple march-like themes with wild and very free improvisations which owe little if anything to the bop tradition, or even his contemporaries in the avant-garde. Ayler always had his own individual message, and his ESP sessions find him in consistently explorative form".[7]

All About Jazz commented: "Though the trio had honed a group sound and method comprising slow and loping or extremely fast themes; Murray's constant percussive chatter and vocal wailing providing an alternate pure-sound springboard; Peacock's constant harmonic filigree creating yet another aural web, these are presented in Prophecy as a much looser framework".[9]

Track listing[]

All compositions by Albert Ayler

  1. "Spirits" - 7:15
  2. "Wizard" - 8:00
  3. "Ghosts (First Variation)" - 10:00
  4. "Prophecy" - 6:35
  5. "Ghosts (Second Variation)" - 7:40



  1. ^ Albert Ayler discography accessed October 29, 2014
  2. ^ Jump up to: a b Albert Ayler sessionography, accessed October 29, 2014
  3. ^ "Ayler / Murray / Peacock – Albert Smiles With Sunny". Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  4. ^ Warburton, Dan (November 3, 2000). "Sunny Murray: Interview by Dan Warburton, November 3, 2000" (Interview). Paris Transatlantic. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
  5. ^ Wilmer, Val (2018). As Serious as your Life. Serpent's Tail. p. 138.
  6. ^ Wilmer, Val (2018). As Serious as your Life. Serpent's Tail. p. 139.
  7. ^ Jump up to: a b Yanow, S., Allmusic Review accessed October 29, 2014
  8. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. pp. 16. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  9. ^ Allen, C., Albert Ayler: Prophecy/Bells Review, July 14, 2005
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