Reviews that mention Charles Gayle

November 11, 2017

Gayle/Barcella/Cabras

Live in Belgium
elNegocito eNOR062

At 78, tenor saxophonist Charles Gayle is arguably the last living avatar of all-consuming Free Jazz, which during the 1960s and 1970s was expressed with burning zeal by figures such as John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Frank Wright. While he has tempered his program to include snatches of standards and his more conciliatory piano playing, like an enlightened devotee, Gayle is able to bring into his sanctified orbit any associates with whom he plays. Live in Belgium is a case in point. Throughout Belgium-domiciled Italians, bassist Manolo Cabras and drummer Giovanni Barcella follow Gayle’s sonic pilgrimage as effectively as if he was Ayler and they Gary Peacock and Sunny Murray. MORE

July 6, 2015

Festival Report

Ring Ring
By Ken Waxman

Try to imagine any North American TV network telecasting a performance by Charles Gayle that’s simultaneously broadcast on radio and via live streaming. Impossible, right? But that’s exactly what took place mid-way through the annual Ring Ring Festival in Belgrade Serbia. Facing an enthusiastic studio audience, Gayle on piano and tenor saxophone plus Polish bassist Ksawery Wojcinski’s subtle string bending and German drummer Klaus Kugel’s aggressive, but un-antagonistic beats played for one hour. This unique programming characterizes Ring Ring (May 19-25) in colorful Belgrade, a city poised between East and West which has been subject to periodic sieges and bombardments since the 14th Century including NATO’s in 1999. Slightly constrained by the studio, Gayle’s tenor saxophone playing was less ferocious than in the past although still characterized by wide vibrato and molten intensity, which was put to good use on a run through of “Ghosts” and during duets with the bassist’s choppy thrusts. A unique pianist, Gayle favored the instrument’s dark register with boogie-woogie allusions, supplemented by his own voicing, which re-harmonized standards like “I’ll Remember You” and “What’s New”, dissected them, eventually revealing the melody, like an X-ray of the skeleton beneath the skin. MORE

August 23, 2013

Charles Gayle Trio

Look Up
ESP-Disk 4070

Perverse as it may seem to anyone seeing him perform these days, but gigs with saxophonist Charles Gayle actually feature a kinder gentler Gayle than in the past. Today Gayle concentrates as much on his piano playing as his saxophones, and, apt to throw some standards into the set list, he also usually lets his reeds express his opinions.

That wasn’t so in 1994 as this Santa Monica concert proves. Celebrated as a link to 1960s Energy Music, who had endured neglect and homelessness to maintain his commitment, in the early 1990s Gayle was still treating every performance as a challenge. This makes for an exhilarating if someone exhausting set of more than 70 minutes. Assisted by drummer Michael Wimberley, who has seconded the likes of saxman Louie Belogenis and trumpeter Roy Campbell; and bassist Michael Bisio, now better-known for his affiliation with pianist Matthew Shipp; Gayle was practically indefatigable. Every phrase appeared to flow from his tenor saxophone in altissimo screeches or renal growls, and he wasn’t above lecturing his audience on the benefits of a Christian life and rail against homosexuality, feminism and abortion. In short he comes across as a combination of Pat Robertson and C. L. Franklin plus a resurrected Albert Ayler. MORE

October 12, 2012

William Parker

Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976–1987
NoBusiness NBCD 42-47

Something In the Air: Discovering Long Hidden Advanced Jazz

By Ken Waxman

When New York’s now justly famous, Vision Festival first took place in 1996 committed jazz fans greeted the event as if they were witnessing a full-fledged musical resurrection. So many advanced players of unbridled free form and experimental sounds were involved that the annual festival soon became a crowded week-long summer happening. Ironically – which was one reason for the Fest’s popularity – these probing sounds and its players were supposed to have vanished after the revolutionary 1960s, superseded first by Jazz-Rock pounders’ simple melodies and then jazz’s Young Lions who aped the sounds and sartorial choices of the 1950s – both of which had major record label support. Still bassist/composer/bandleader William Parker’s Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976–1987 NoBusiness NBCD 42-47 aptly demonstrates, experimental sounds never vanished; they just went underground. As the 24 often lengthy tracks that make up this 6-CD set of hitherto unreleased material substantiates in its breadth of performances, sonically questing players were improvising and composing during those so-called lost years. But it took the founding of the Vision Festival by Parker and his wife, dancer/choreographer Patricia Nicholson, to provide the proper medium for this work. Major stylists such as saxophonists Charles Gayle and David S. Ware, vocalist Ellen Christi and trumpeter Roy Campbell, all of whom are represented in the set, would go on to mentor a multiplying groundswell of younger rule stretchers and future Vision Fest participants. Also, despite being professionally recorded, the conservative climate of the times, plus the cost of producing and distributing LPs, left the tapes used for these CDs stacked in performers’ apartments. Now the belated release of Centering fills in a blank in jazz history, equivalent to what coming across a cache of unreleased John Cage or Morton Feldman recordings would do. Included in the package is an attractively designed 66-page paperback book with vintage photos, posters and sketches along with essays discussing the background of the sessions, the musicians’ experiences and the New York scene. MORE

June 5, 2012

Charles Gayle Trio

Streets
Northern Spy NSCD018

By Ken Waxman

By now the tale of how the mid-‘70s “discovery” of homeless street musician Charles Gayle, whose unfettered saxophone playing breathed new life into jazz’s so-called avant-garde, has as much apocryphal currency as how toothless trumpeter Bunk Johnson’s ‘40s re-emergence supposedly energized traditional jazz.

In truth, as his exceptional improvising on this CD attests, regardless of his storied background, Gayle, like Johnson before him, is a notable player on his own merits. Whereas some New Thing veterans have returned to playing with disappointing results, at 72 Gayle is creating at as high a level as when he first recorded. Furthermore as his sympathetic relationship here with Boston bassist Larry Roland and New York mainstay, drummer Michael TA Thompson attests, free-form improvising, like classic jazz, has always been around. The bassist and drummer, who both spent years played with other below-the-radar experimenters like saxophonist Ras Moshe and trumpeter Raphe Malik, would confirm that. MORE

April 23, 2009

Odean Pope

Plant Life
Porter Records PRCD-4017

Charles Gayle Trio

Forgiveness

NotTwo MW 805-2

Superficially similar, each of these dates is lead by a veteran American saxophonist on either side of 70, adds the contributions of a bassist and a drummer, and consists of a program of mostly originals plus a different famous composition by John Coltrane. Although neither reaches the top rank, certain cohesive warmth and looseness in performance makes alto saxophonist Charles Gayle’s Forgiveness more enticing than tenor saxophonist Odean Pope’s Plant Life. MORE

April 23, 2009

Charles Gayle Trio

Forgiveness
NotTwo MW 805-2

Odean Pope

Plant Life

Porter Records PRCD-4017

Superficially similar, each of these dates is lead by a veteran American saxophonist on either side of 70, adds the contributions of a bassist and a drummer, and consists of a program of mostly originals plus a different famous composition by John Coltrane. Although neither reaches the top rank, certain cohesive warmth and looseness in performance makes alto saxophonist Charles Gayle’s Forgiveness more enticing than tenor saxophonist Odean Pope’s Plant Life. MORE

August 15, 2008

Charles Gayle, William Parker & Rashied Ali

Touchin’ On Trane
Jazzwerkstatt JW024

By Any Means

Live at Crescendo

Ayler Records aylCD- 077/078

Almost 16 years to the day separate these two live sessions, yet not one member of this trio of veteran players appears to have lost his edge or gusto.

Dispelling once again the old shibboleth that jazz is a young man’s game, saxophonist Charles Gayle, 68, drummer Rashied Ali, 73, and bassist William Parker, 56, create enough fire and commitment – mixed with experience – on both sets to enliven any program of improvised music. MORE

August 15, 2008

By Any Means

Live at Crescendo
Ayler Records aylCD- 077/078

Charles Gayle, William Parker & Rashied Ali

Touchin’ On Trane

Jazzwerkstatt JW024

Almost 16 years to the day separate these two live sessions, yet not one member of this trio of veteran players appears to have lost his edge or gusto.

Dispelling once again the old shibboleth that jazz is a young man’s game, saxophonist Charles Gayle, 68, drummer Rashied Ali, 73, and bassist William Parker, 56, create enough fire and commitment – mixed with experience – on both sets to enliven any program of improvised music. MORE

January 9, 2008

Jazz à Mulhouse gives a loving French kiss to Improvised music

By Ken Waxman
For CODA Issue 337

Impressive saxophone and reed displays were the focus of the 24th Edition of Jazz à Mulhouse in France in late August. Overall however, most of the 19 performances maintained a constant high quality. This may have something to do with the fact that unlike larger, flashier and more commercial festivals, Jazz à Mulhouse (JAM) is an almost folksy showcase for improvisation.

Located less than 20 minutes away by train from Basel, Switzerland, Mulhouse is a mid-sized city of 150,000 in eastern France long known as an industrial textile centre. Low-key, JAM is rather like the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV), with better restaurants. MORE

November 1, 2006

Charles Gayle

Live at Glenn Miller Café
Ayler aylCD-015

Playing alto saxophone rather than his usual tenor, this live set encapsulates New York-based Charles Gayle’s art bruit. Often described as a throwback to the no-holds-barred Energy Music of the 1960s, the reedist invests his performances with enough verve and perspicacity that it’s as if that exploratory decade never ended.

Demonstrative as well as discordant, his strident runs and choked vibrato allow him to practically recompose tunes such as “Giant Steps” and “Cherokee”. Meanwhile his glossolalia coupled with the strident rhythms of drummer Michael Wimberley and bassist Gerald Benson give standards like “What’s New” and “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” an inchoate dissonance similar to the interface exhibited on shrieking and dissonant Gayle originals. MORE

July 10, 2006

CHARLES GAYLE

Time Zones
Tompkins Square Records TSQ 2839-2

DAVE BURRELL
Margy Pargy
Splasc (H) CDH 874.2

Melody men above all, seem to be strange descriptions of avant-garde avatars Dave Burrell and especially Charles Gayle. But each singly lives up to the definition on these solo piano sessions.

Philadelphia-based Burrell, 66, who once composed a solo-piano opera, has always had a foothold in the pre-bebop tradition, despite his 1960s recording for ESP-Disk and his long association with Freebop saxophonists Archie Shepp and David Murray. More unexpected is New Yorker Gayle, 67, who is celebrated – or is it reviled – for his blow-torch tone on alto and tenor saxophones and bass clarinet. In 2000 however the saxophonist revealed jaw-dropping adroitness as a solo pianist on a collection of jazz standards. MORE

May 12, 2006

Charles Gayle

Time Zones
Tompkins Square TSQ 2839-2

One unexpected description of Charles Gayle would be melodic. But he lives up to the definition on this solo piano session. Known for his blow-torch reed tone, Gayle first revealed adroitness as a solo pianist on a CD of standards in 2000. Time Zones is his all-originals follow-up.

Unlike his primitivist reed playing, on keyboard Gayle seems to possess the dexterity that characterized earlier stylists such as James P. Johnson and Earl Hines. Simultaneously contemporary and traditional, the irony about this CD is that the pianism pre-dates the mature style of Cecil Taylor, who is a decade older. Gayle’s disc is as ornamental as his reed style is sparse and as consonant as his saxophone playing is dissonant. The rent-party heft of boogie-woogie and decorative, continuous note-layering are always present. MORE

October 31, 2005

CHARLES GAYLE TRIO

Shout
Clean Feed CF 033CD

PAUL FLAHERTY & MARC EDWARDS
Kaivalya Volume 1
Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1177

Unbridled emotionalism has always been somewhat suspect among formally trained musicians – even some jazz players who should know better. Forgetting yourself momentarily while emphasizing the contours of a romantic ballad or the pace of a rhythm tune is OK, they sniff condescendingly. But, they warn, forgetting yourself this way too often leads to sloppy intonation and wrong notes. MORE

August 29, 2005

SIRONE BANG ENSEMBLE

Configuration
Silkheart SHCD 155

More a series of concertos for four instrumentalists than a relationship or arrangement, CONFIGURATION, recorded live in New York late last year, is a confirmation of the power of three veteran, so-called avant-garde players and the introduction of a talented tyro.

Still vibrant, despite the desires of neo-cons to banish them from jazz history, violinist Billy Bang, 57, bassist Sirone, 64, and saxophonist Charles Gayle 65, are as inventive and technically adroit as they were when they first began making noise –sometimes literally – in the 1960s and 1970s. New kid on the block – who holds his own here – is New Jersey-based drummer Tyshawn Sorey, 22. Although not arranged in the bebop sense, the six pieces on this CD, recorded downstairs at CBGBs, offer a lot more than a customary string of round robin solos. Singularly, or in duos, the four not only exhibit instrumental prowess but link disparate sections without ever losing the compositional thread. MORE

July 1, 2005

Hallwalls' New Home

For CODA

A unique arrangement between an American folk-punk singer-songwriter and a longtime bastion of experimental arts means that Western New York’s centre for creative music will have a new, architecturally impressive home in downtown Buffalo by October, 2005.

Hallwalls, a nonprofit arts organization, which for more than 30 years has been the place where innovative art, film and music – especially non-mainstream jazz – has been presented, moves into the expanded first-floor and basement-level facilities in a historically preserved church as a tenant of Righteous Babe Records (RBR). RBR is the folk-punk mini conglomerate that has grown out of the successful career of singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco, a Buffalo native, will have its offices on the second floor. MORE

December 18, 2001

LANDING ON THE WRONG NOTE

By Ajay Heble
Routledge

The most recent schism inside the warring Baltic states that make up the landscape of much of present-day jazz, involves the neo-conservatives verses the experimenters.

Neo-cons, characterized by their champion, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, insist that the music must follow a set of rules and regulations that includes a background in the blues and the necessity of swinging every time a musician plays. Experimenters, among which can be found some of the readers of this magazine, are less doctrinaire. Their playing and compositions welcome other influences, and they aren’t obsessed with producing the “correct” note every time. MORE

May 15, 2001

CHARLES GAYLE

Jazz Solo Piano
Knitting Factory Records KFW 288

This album is going to throw most jazz fans for a loop, whether they're devotees or detractors of Charles Gayle. That's because Gayle is featured here not creating gut wrenching tenor saxophone or bass clarinet improvisations, but as a pianist.

Moreover, the keyboard approach of 62-year-old Gayle can't be classified as so-called avant-garde jazz, but rather as only a half step away from what you'd probably hear in sophisticated jazz clubs any night of the week. In his piano persona, Gayle consecrates the greatest part of his program to standards, from "What's New" to "Afternoon in Paris". More notably, his approach is decidedly pre-modern, with these Stride-through-Swing creations referencing pre-1950 masters such as James P. Johnson, Art Tatum, Erroll Garner and Willie "The Lion" Smith. MORE