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Charles Gayle Trio - Live at Glenn Miller Café

Rex Butters, All About Jazz

Two new releases illuminate for anyone with ears the genius of Charles Gayle. Another crucial release from Ayler Records, the Charles Gayle Trio’s Live at Glenn Miller Café, spends a vibrant evening – recorded earlier this year – with Gayle on alto re-imagining such standards as “Giant Steps” and “What’s New”, as well as featuring a few highly originals.
On Live at Glenn Miller Café, Gayle returns to alto sax for some impassioned performances, four tracks featuring the trio’s takes on well worn standards, clearly referencing the panoramic scope of their vision. Gayle assails the covers, revealing facets previously undreamt with often breathtaking results. Hurtling through a wild take on Parker’s show tune, “Cherokee», Gayle lays out for all to see the sometimes described as hard to find link between bebop and free jazz. It’s too creative, laying the track with the train bearing down, to describe it as deconstructed. The Hammerstein/Romberg chestnut, “Softly As in a Morning Sunrise”, enters quietly and builds to a medium tempo wide ranging improvisation. The theme receives a scant nod eight minutes in, then back to the business at hand. The trio sneaks up on “Giant Steps” through a back door, starting with a crisp march and hints of the theme. Given a suitably low key tempo, “What’s new” gracefully explores the margins. Another cover, Albert Ayler‘s “Ghosts”, piggybacks the original, “Holy Redemption”. An appropriate pairing, the latter begins with swirls and swoops from Gayle, with Gerald Benson on the bow, and Michael Wimberly busy. Their free form motion coalesces around “Ghosts”, played in a surprisingly straightforward way. With the petal on the floor, “Chasing” careens through its lung threatening paces, allowing for the transition to the more reverently paced “Praising the Lord”, with its exalted prayer played multiphonically.
Charles Gayle’s new CDs argue strongly for a wider audience and greater recognition. For virtuoso power and originality, these Gayle force performances will satisfy the most demanding jazz fan.