Review - 'Nuits de la Foundation Maeght 1970' by Albert Ayler

I discovered the existence of the Albert Ayler album 'Nuits De La Foundation Maeght 1970 ' when I saw a Youtube link with no accompanying text turn up on my twitter feed, as posted by John Darnielle of indie folk band 'The Mountain Goats' (whose presence on the internet is often as compelling as the music he makes). I clicked on the mystery link and was taken to an Albert Ayler song called “Music is the Healing Force of the Universe.” Noting the title, it seemed no coincidence this song had been shared only a few days after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, especially given it turned out to be a live performance recorded in France. 

As I listened to Ayler’s playing, his horn so full of yearning and love at the same time, so full of agitation and pro-active energy, the song did indeed seem to perfectly embody its title. It’s a transporting  psychedelic pill which, as its lyrics spell out with unabashed frankness, aims to lead the listener towards an internal sea change for the better. 

'Music is the Healing Force of the Universe' is the final track on an album of performances by Ayler’s incredible live band (the pianist Call Cobbs is especially magical) and it’s the only one which includes his partner Mary Maria Parks on vocal. Heard at the end of the album rather than as a single isolated track one senses that all the purely instrumental performances leading up to it, especially the dizzying squawk of 'The Truth Is Marching In', are working to justify Parks' closing testimony to the cleansing, healing power of the music. If it wasn’t for the bands combined power, and the soulful world weariness that oozes from Parks' voice, then the very literal lyrics would almost certainly be overbearing. In the context of Ayler’s band and the sublime intensity of his own playing, the message the song conveys feels more like a gift than a lecture. 

“Music is the healing force of the universe . . . music causes all bad vibrations to fade away, it makes one want to love instead of hate . . . it reconciles, unites, it brings about a state of wholeness and purifies . . . sometimes our very soul is in need of spiritual medication . . . just open up your heart and soul and let it come in, oh let it come in, the music of the universe, the music of love, be healed, be healed.” 

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