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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Mars Williams Presents: an Ayler Xmas Vol. 3 "Live in Krakow" (NotTwo, 2019) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Yeah, it's that time again! Last year, Mars William's Ayler Xmas rolled through Berlin and in a packed cellar club the quartet blazed through a set-list full of holiday madness, with Christmas and Chanukka favorites being lovingly deconstructed and glued back together with abandon. The show was even better than the album - Volume II - that had just been released. Well, as this seems to be becoming its own holiday tradition, a recording of this tour is now out as Volume III, and it's as every bit as wonderful as the time of the year.

Last time, the recording was a combination of William's American and European legs of the previous year's yuletide tour, featuring an American band on some tracks and a European one on the other. This time, the recording is from a stop at the Alchemia club in Krakow, Poland and features a multi-national mix of musicians. Aside from Williams on sax, there is also guitarist Knox Chandler and trumpeter Jaimie Branch and bassist Mark Tokar and dummer Klaus Klugel. If you think this sounds enticing enough, you're right, but there's plenty more! First, you get William's recitation of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" interpolated with the spirit of Ayler and a mariachi band. Then, you also get the absolute mad-cap mashup of  "The Hanukkah-Xmas March Of Truth For 12 Days Of Jingling Bells With Spirits" which you should not miss - Chandler's atmospherics along with the horns' intertwined mayhem is worth the listen alone. And, there is much much more.

I've said it many time and many ways, and hopefully I'll get to say it again next year: this is fun music made to make holiday listening so much better.