Łukasz Rychlicki and Paweł Szpura, two-thirds of the band Lotto, will dig into Albert Ayler’s archives. Instead of playing covers though, they will draw inspiration from Ayler’s poignant compositions.
The saxophonist Albert Ayler isn’t as widely recognizable in Poland as, let’s say, Ornette Coleman. Still, Ayler’s influence on free jazz and improvised music is indisputable – he inspired generations of musicians. He took up the alto saxophone as a child, when he played at his local church, and then rhythm’n’blues bands. After joining the army, he played in the regiment band. While stationed in France, Ayler became inspired by martial music, which would prove crucial to his development as a musician. He always emphasised that the conventions that jazz had accumulated over the years are a serious impediment to creativity and innovation. So he went on to deconstruct them, believing that a rebirth of jazz is possible, if you break with the rules of the game and limitations of scale. He produced sounds that were unlike any made by a jazz saxophonist before him.
Ayler struggled with mental health issues throughout his career. In 1970, he was found dead in the East River in New York. He was 34. Shortly before his death, Ayler recorded some compositions inspired by rock and funk.
Albert Ayler’s life and legacy inspired guitarist Łukasz Rychlicki and drummer Paweł Szpura to perform together a few years ago. Their short (albeit intense) shows aren’t your usual way to get acquainted with Ayler’s legacy though. The references are subtle and easy to miss. The duo was never going to play cover versions. Instead, their performances are inspired by the legendary American saxophonist’s philosophy of music – emotional, sometimes melancholic, always surprising.
Szpura and Rychlicki have played together in many musical projects and configurations. They play in Lotto with Mike Majkowski, in Freegate with Mikołaj Trzaska, and in a trio with Piotr Kurek.
Paweł Szpura is a drummer whose style successfully incorporates various musical influences – native African, Arabic, Turkish and American rock from the Sixties and Seventies. His playing is subtle and rhythmic, bringing to mind drummers such as Ed Blackwell and Hamid Drake (whom he had played with at Krakow Jazz Autumn in 2013). Szpura has worked with, among others, Cukunft, HERA and Wovoka.
Guitarist Łukasz Rychlicki is known primarily as a member of Kristen, a band he created with his brother Mateusz and bassist/vocalist Michał Biela, which has over the last decade been enchanting listeners with alternative, raw beauty. His style is inspired by jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. Łukasz Rychlicki also plays in a duo with his brother Mateusz, called Salto. He’s worked with Mikołaj Trzaska, Robert Piernikowski, Etam Etamski, Piotr Kurek, and in Freegate with Szpura and Trzaska.