My Name Is Albert Ayler Movie Review: Jazz Prophet Remembered
By Prairie Miller
Though avant-garde, free form jazz artist Albert Ayler might feel right at home in today's more evolved experimental musical milieu, this creative talent who blossomed tragically way before his time was viewed at best as eccentric and an enigma in the 1960s. The Swedish documentary My Name Is Albert Ayler, traces the troubled life and eventual suicide of the Cleveland born African-American uniquely talented mind and self-described Picasso of the jazz world, who was crippled by the dual burden of precocious artistic alienation and racial oppression.
Migrating into cultural exile to Sweden, Ayler sought and discovered appreciation and fleeting fame. By the time he returned to the United States, he was disintegrating mentally from a combination of the ravages of drug addition and psychotic religious delusions, despite the support of his loving, close knit circle of family and friends. And in 1970 in his mid-thirties, Ayler caught a ferry to Staten Island and threw himself overboard. Though barely remembered beyond the jazz community, his adventurous musical influence is pervasive throughout.
Swedish director Kasper Collins frames My Name Is Albert Ayler as a loving and compassionate screen poem, incorporating reminiscences of those close to him, with Ayler's music and his musings gleaned from interviews. The film is also an excursion into the past to connect the jazz great's life and death to a sense of the times that informed his existence, though that aspect is far too ethereal and sketchy, and the weaker endeavor of the documentary. My Name Is Albert Ayler will likely be passionately embraced by fans of his music, but leave others wanting to understand and absorb much more about the man and his art, than is presented in this slice of enormously creative life.
My Name is Albert Ayler opens at the Billy Wilder Theater in Los Angeles on March 5th, The Grande 4-Plex in LA on March 7th, and at San Francisco's Red Vic Movie House on March 9th, followed by releases nationwide.
Related Movie Reviews News