The Wire


Donald Ayler 1942-2007

Donald Ayler, the trumpet playing younger brother of saxophonist Albert Ayler, has died.

Donald Ayler, the trumpet playing younger brother of saxophonist Albert Ayler, died on 21 October following a sudden heart attack. Donald’s buzzing, declamatory trumpet playing, which was part Holy Roller primitive, part avant garde firebrand, was an integral component in the groups led by Albert during 1965-8, animating the ecstatic mood of such landmark recordings of the new jazz as Spirits Rejoice, Bells, Live In Greenwich Village and Love Cry. In 1967 Donald, who was born 5 October 1942 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, had what he referred to as a "nervous breakdown" (in fact he suffered with mental illness for most of his life). This factor, coupled with his sacking from his brother’s group circa 1968, and then Albert’s mysterious death in 1970, effectively forced him to quit music for good (although in the early 80s he did re-emerge briefly to work with a new group in Florence, Italy). Donald appeared in Kasper Collins’s recent documentary My Name Is Albert Ayler where he spoke movingly and eloquently about the music he and his brother had made together four decades earlier. He died at the care home in Northfield, Ohio where he had been resident for some time.

Photo by Val Wilmer shows Donald and Albert Ayler, circa 1966

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