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Charles Gayle Trio - Live at Glenn Miller Café

Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG Newsletter

Like a true jazz giant, free/jazz sax master, Charles Gayle continues to evolve and change his sound and scope. After two decades, he has put down his tenor sax and has been playing either alto sax and/or piano at gigs and on record for the past few years. Charles now has some two releases under his name of mostly trio or solo discs. Gigs in New York and CD releases seem to be less frequent, making each appearance more special.
At the Vision Fest, last month (6/17/06), we witnessed the triumphant return of By Any Means, which is Charles Gayle, William Parker and Rashied Ali. It turned out to be the favorite set (of 34 sets) of many in attendance. I just hope it was recorded and this trio continues to play live.

'Live at the Glenn Miller Cafe' was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden in February of this year and it features Charles' longtime trio: Gerald Benson on bass and Michael Wimberly on drums.

Over the last few years Charles has been adding select standards to his live sax trio sets, something he has often done at the piano.
On this wonderful new CD, he does half standards and half originals. This disc opens with the bebop standard, "Cherokee" and the trio launches into this piece at a furious pace and takes off for the stratosphere.
Next they do an old ballad called, "Softly as a Morning Sunrise", which they stretch out and so solemnly. Charles caresses each note and bends it slightly, giving his sax a most human like voice. The tempo picks up and the trio starts to swing splendidly with Charles taking a long, story-like solo that unfolds in sections, the trio flowing so naturally together.
On Charles' own "Chasing" & "Praising The Lord", the trio again erupts like they are in a high-speed chase and on the verge of flying apart. They come to halt about a third of the way through and then build it up again, at one point their voices pleading together in a spiritual embrace.
They cover Coltrane's challenging "Giant Steps", but it starts as a march and then is transformed as if moves through some unexpected twists and turns. You can tell that this rhythm has been at it for a long while since they consistently work so well as one force. We get a most impressive drum solo in the middle of "Giants Steps" and then it is back to the march.
They do another somber ballad called "What's New" and do a fine, touching version.
They bring things to a great conclusion with Gayle's "Holy Redemption" which morphs into an incredible take of Albert Ayler's classic, "Ghosts". Simmering bowed bass, smouldering mallets and the human cry of Charles' gut-wrenching alto sax, reach out and touch us all, squeezing the life-force from our hearts and reveal the pearl at the center of the oyster.
This is one incredible trio whose power cannot be denied.