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By Any Means - Live at Crescendo

Phillip McNally, Cadence Magazine

The shadow of late Coltrane also hangs pretty heavily over the monster trio which calls itself By Any Means. The double CD recording on Live at Crescendo captures a full night, with both sets from the Crescendo Club in Norway, so it is as much an impressive document as anything.
Rashied Ali, of course, has the direct roots to ‘Trane, since he was there at the creation. But in Charles Gayle and William Parker, Ali has able and individual assistance. The opening set begins, fittingly, with a Blues that wanders in and out, gradually progressing in its intensity and energy. Yet for all of the burning atonality of both these sets, the trio is clearly working with compositions as a launching pad. It is often overlooked how Gayle can play with amazing prettiness, not just the fire and fury he is known for, and on alto (which he plays exclusively here) he reminds me often of Dolphy in the vocalizations of his work. On tracks like “Straight Ahead Steps” and “Cry Nu” he seems almost to play Dolphy to William Parker’s Mingus. As is often the case, the second set is stronger, the one I find I return to for its concision and purposeful direction. But the whole document is a delight to have, akin to hearing the Armstrong All Stars in the ‘50s. The tradition of playing on Live at Crescendo may seem radically different than what Armstrong and Teagarden and Co. were producing, but it is indeed now a tradition, and Gayle, Parker, and Ali are among the finest exponents we have of it today.