All sorts of jazz, free jazz and improv. Never for money, always for love.
For much of this bristling 2006 Stockholm club date, Charles Gayle interprets – or shreds, depending on your vantage – iconic flag-wavers like “Cherokee” and “Giant Steps,” as well as standards like “Softly in a Morning Sunrise” and “What’s New.” It is a welcomed reminder that free jazz is often at its best when its jazz roots are ecstatically celebrated, instead of being shrouded. Gayle wields an alto for the entire set instead of his signature tenor saxophone, resulting in a distinctive abrasive edge. Spurred on by drummer Michael Wimberley and bassist Gerald Benson, Gayle freely mixes serrated changes-referencing runs and a more directly Ayler-inspired approach. The balance tips towards the latter when Gayle calls an invocatory original composition like “Holy Redemption,” which is performed in a medley with Ayler’s “Ghosts” to close the album. However, the lasting impression made by the album centers on Gayle’s articulation of how fierce swing morphs into pure energy, and notes into sound. In this regard, the contributions of Wimberley and Benson are crucial: it’s a photo finish each time out as to who charges off the precipice first. This repertoire may have had layers of veneer-like context applied to it over the years; but, there’s still raw pulp underneath, and Gayle’s trio reveals it, zealously.
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