Wednesday, 7 September 2011

GHOSTS / A Tribute to Albert Ayler / Paul Hession & Leon Johnson, Eoin Shea & Derek Horton / October 7 2011 / Leeds, UK


7 October 2011 – from 7pm - at Holy Trinity Church, Boar Lane, Leeds, UK

GHOSTS, a tribute to Albert Ayler

Ghosts is a collaborative work by the artists Derek Horton and Eoin Shea, and the musicians Paul Hession (percussion) and Leon Thomas Johnson (tenor saxophone). Hession and Johnson improvise to two twin-screen film projections by Horton and Shea. The project is a tribute to the legendary musician Albert Ayler, 41 years after his death in New York at the age of 34. After falling from the Staten Island ferry in mysterious circumstances, Ayler's body was found on 25 November 1970.

Ghosts has its origins in an earlier collaboration between Derek Horton and Leon Johnson several years ago: an animated sequence of Horton’s photographs of three significant locations in New York - Sonny Rollins' practice spot on the Williamsburg Bridge, 48 East 3rd where Sun Ra and his Arkestra lived, and Congress Street Pier, where Albert Ayler's body was washed up after he drowned in the East River. This was sound-tracked with a recording of a Johnson saxophone improvisation multi-tracked in post-production by Horton. This work can still be seen at

For the current project, Eoin Shea has re-worked the original footage in one film, and also made an entirely new film, in collaboration with Horton and in response to recordings of Albert Ayler’s music. This utilises video footage shot for the project in the vicinity of Congress Street Pier by New York-based artist Les Joynes, together with especially commissioned typography by Andrew Wilson Lambeth. The resulting twin-screen black-and-white projection is focused on textural and rhythmic image qualities and will provide the starting-point as well as the backdrop for Hession and Johnson’s improvisation.

Ghosts is the second collaborative production between Eoin Shea and Derek Horton. The first, The Man Who Saved The World, took place in the abandoned shell of a former shopping space in Leeds city centre on 23 Sept 2010. Within 22,000 square feet of reclaimed space, Home of the Brave sound-tracked Shea's ten screen circular cinema of re-cut science fiction imagery with free jazz inflected renditions of classic western film tunes. Documentation can be seen at and

The first performance of Ghosts will take place in the landmark 18th century Holy Trinity Church in Leeds city centre on Friday 7th October from 7pm. It is a self-funded project and attendance is free. Subsequent touring dates are planned and should be announced shortly. 

Paul Hession, born in Leeds, is one of the major free-jazz drummers in the world. He took up the drums in his teens and has played in many European & Scandinavian countries as well as Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, USA and Canada, performing with many world-renowned improvising musicians including Peter Brotzmann, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, Sunny Murray, Marshall Allen, Frode Gjerstad, Peter Kowald, Joe McPhee and Borah Bergman. Other collaborators include Tom Jenkinson (Squarepusher), Otomo Yoshihide, Alan Wilkinson, Simon Fell, Mick Beck & Hans-Peter Hiby and Paul Woolford.

Leon Thomas Johnson is a member of The Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra, a Leeds-based afro-beat band influenced by Fela Kuti and others. In 2009 the band were signed to independent record label First Word Records and released their self-titled debut album in 2010. As an improviser Leon has worked with Paul Dunmall and others, and regularly with Paul Hession in their duo Gunboat Diplomacy.

Derek Horton is an artist, writer and teacher. After working in community arts, adventure playgrounds and alternative education in the 1970’s, he spent many years as a university-based art school academic. He now works independently on art projects, writing and publishiing, including the online magazine Soanyway.

Eoin Shea is an artist working with film, video, painting, collage and installation, often collaborating with musicians to produce large-scale live events. These include work with Vibracathedral Orchestra co-founder Michael Flower, Richard Ormrod's Home of the Brave, The Telescopes, and Ashtray Navigations, making film and video for live improvised sound-tracking and working with the textural and sensorial impact of film in a live performance environment. 

Albert Ayler - 
playing with a wild, atonal sound in his hometown of Cleveland in the 1950s, an era in which a good deal of jazz was getting quieter and smoother, the other-worldly Ayler focussed obsessively on a contemporary vision of the long-gone ragged polyphonies, street-marches, gospel songs and spirituals of the earliest African-American music. 

He once said of his music: "If people don't like it now, they will." He didn't live to see that happen, but history was on his side. The Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek was a devoted Ayler disciple in the late-1960s, as was Coltrane acolyte and subsequent acid-jazz star, Pharoah Sanders. The unique British improv original Evan Parker still has Ayler inflections, and even Sonny Rollins and the late Michael Brecker, despite greater acceptance in a more conventional contemporary jazz world, appreciated the intensity of Ayler's extraordinary sound.