An icon of 1960s free jazz, tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler had a singularly extreme approach that influenced figures as disparate as John Coltrane, Peter Brötzmann and Patti Smith. Healing Force pays tribute to Ayler's oft-reviled late period, including late-'60s albums New Grass and Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe, wherein he embraced elements of R&B and peace-and-love psychedelia, and at which most acolytes in turn screamed "sellout." Recorded in Berkeley, Force features East Bay locals Henry Kaiser (guitar), Damon Smith (bass) and Aurora Josephson (voice); NYC out-jazz guitarist Joe Morris and Zappa alumnus Mike Keneally (guitar); noise-punks Flying Luttenbachers drummer Weasel Walter; and Vinny Golia, multi-sax giant of SoCal's avant-jazz scene. While lovingly preserving the folk-like naiveté of Ayler's melodies, this lot summons his invigorating cry without attempting aspects of his style. Golia wails passionately, the guitarists generate some truly scary noise and Josephson's serene, Kim Gordon-like croon is the balm offsetting all the sustained high-energy agitation. While the "cosmic" lyrics are, well, dated, Healing Force is a majestic, cathartic maelstrom to chase away evil spirits.
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