. . . Ayler studied at the Academy of Music in Cleveland with jazz saxophonist Benny Miller. He also played the oboe in high school.
As a teen Ayler played with such skill that he was known around Cleveland as "Little Bird," after virtuoso saxophonist Charlie Parker. . . .
at the age of 16, Ayler began playing bar-walking, honking, R&B-style tenor with blues singer and harmonica player Little Walter, spending two summer vacations with Walter's band.
After graduating from high school, Ayler joined the United States Army, where he jammed with other enlisted musicians, including tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. He also played in the regiment band. In 1959 he was stationed in France, where he was further exposed to the martial music that would be a core influence on his later work.
After his discharge from the army, Ayler kicked around Los Angeles and Cleveland trying to find work, but his increasingly iconoclastic playing, which had moved away from traditional harmony, was not welcomed by traditionalists. . . .
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