Arthur Doyle plus 4 Alabama Feeling

[AK-BA; 1978]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: free jazz, avant-garde jazz, improvisation
Others: Noah Howard, Milford Graves, Albert Ayler

Discussing jazz music isn't as easy as some people would like. I, for one, would love to be able to better articulate when it comes to the avant-garde sub-genre of jazz. Arthur Doyle is a prime example of why this can be tricky. In fact, if you've ever had a conversation with a jazz connoisseur and mentioned the name Arthur Doyle, the discussion most likely became a convoluted mess (providing both of you have even heard his work). There simply isn't a correct way to go about describing the sounds that come out of this man's saxophone, nor is it remotely plausible that he could blow through his reed with such force without passing out. Either way, Doyle creates sounds that, even by today's standards, are rarely heard in jazz music.

Originally released in a very limited run of 1,000 copies in 1978 on the AK-BA imprint, Arthur Doyle's mind-boggling debut, Alabama Feeling, is as vigorous today as it was nearly 30 years ago. Doyle, along with musicians Richard Williams (bass), Rashied Sinan (drums), Bruce Moore (Drums), and Charles Stephens (trombone), gathered for what may still be one of the most grueling jazz performances ever imposed on listeners. That's not to say this is an album you should avoid, rather, it's an album that should be approached from a different perspective than typical jazz albums.  

For starters, the musicians play with an intensity that could be too forceful for the casual listener. There are only a few moments where empty space is utilized for traditional jazz structure to surface. The mouthful "A Little Linda, Debra, Ornita, Barry, and Maria" is as traditional as the album gets, which, for some, may act as the only true moment of clarity. But therein lies the true correlation between Alabama Feeling and the fundamental concept of avant-garde jazz; the ability to push the boundaries of tradition while utilizing the contained instruments in an entirely new fashion.

The abrasive squawking of Doyle's saxophone, paired with the dual drummers and bass, is one of the only moments in Doyle's catalog where a rhythm section is added to enhance his performance. A lot of what Doyle does is perform solo or with a single accompanist. The simple truth is that Arthur Doyle is a non-traditional jazz musician, and his music is anything but traditional. Alabama Feeling is a true testament to this philosophy.

Believe it or not, unlike an Albert Ayler or a Sunny Murray, Arthur Doyle's music is still unheard by many. Had I not been witness to one of his performances last year, I'd still be one of those people unfamiliar with his work. But I find with each successive listen to Alabama Feeling I am witnessing the work of one of the most under-appreciated living legends of American jazz history. And while this is not something I can listen to every day, it certainly gives me the patience I need to listen to many albums that don't match its intensity.

1. November 8th or 9th -- I Can't Remember When
2. Something for Caserlo, Larry & Irma
3. A Little Linda, Debra, Omita, Barry & Maria
4. Ancestor
5. Mother Image, Father Image
6. Development
a) BaBi Music for Milford & Huge
b) Alabama Soul for Arthur
c) Ramie & Master Charles of the Trombone

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