Anna Williams (vocals) and Linsey Wellman (sax) play Christmas carols ©Brett Delmage, 2010
Anna Williams (vocals) and Linsey Wellman (sax) play Christmas carols ©Brett Delmage, 2010

The Albert Ayler Christmas Carols Mix at the Mercury Lounge was one of the last shows of 2009 but became one of my unexpected favourites. Free of syrup and full of zest, some of Ottawa-Gatineau's talented improvisers and jazz musicians unleashed the mash-up of Albert Ayler and Christmas standards in unexpected ways.

Now, 12 years or so after project leader Bernard Stepien started thinking about the concept, and after three or so years of live performances, and after a City grant and a more rigorous study and approach to the mash-up. the group has a CD, A very Ayler Christmas!, to put under your Christmas tree. Or better yet, load the CD's music onto your personal music player and defend your ears against offensive noise when going into stores for the rest of the year.

    – Brett Delmage

And be sure to listen to our interview with Bernard Stepien, who offers background on the history of the project and Albert Ayler, and shares the groups plans to go carolling with their version of Christmas tunes.

Listen to the podcast [mp3, 15 mins, 11.3 MB]

A very Ayler Christmas CD release concert will take place on Tuesday 14 December at 8 p.m. at the Mercury Lounge.

The group will have an encore performance at IMOO on Sunday, December 19

All photos copyright ©Brett Delmage, 2010. Click a thumbnail for a larger view.