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By Any Means - Live at Crescendo

Bill Shoemaker, Point of Departure

Given the trio is comprised of Fire Music and Ecstatic Jazz icons Rashied Ali, Charles Gayle and William Parker, By Any Means is remarkably rooted in blues, motif-driven heads and otherwise thematically based pieces on this 2-disc set.

However, this does not dampen their intensity. If anything, the materials give Gayle well-grounded lenses through which his fiercely braying alto burns with precision, bringing his fluent use of bop and blues idioms into sharper focus than usual.
This gives both Ali and Parker enough leeway to modulate the feel, but without stretching the materials or the form of a given piece beyond recognition. Ali and Parker’s respective dexterity in shifting accents allows them to repeatedly move the pocket, spiking the voltage of even Gayle’s most generic phrases, while supplying a tether for the saxophonist’s most explosive outbound flights.
In addition to their percolating duo exchanges, both Ali and Parker take full advantage of the ample available solo space.
Parker’s solos are, as usual, beguiling, even if they are constructed from familiar mixes of skittering and moaning arco passages and tuneful and propulsive pizzicato lines. Intriguingly, Ali doesn’t solo to stereotype, often employing both a lighter than expected touch and rudimentary materials, which solders his connection to the modern jazz drumming tradition he allegedly atomized with Coltrane.
For that matter, Gayle does much of the same when he barrels through blues choruses.

This tendency is at the crux of why By Any Means is a group that lives up to its name.