Charles Gayle - almost 70-year-old legend of free jazz. He spent almost 20 years playing on the streets of New York City. Gayle begun his professional career in mid 80s performing in clubs (e.g. Knitting Factory) and recording albums (the most important once for Silkheart, FMP, Thirsty Ear and Clean Feed). He cooperated with free jazz giants: William Parker, Rashid Ali and Chad Taylor among others. This new album was recorded at Jazzga Club, Lódz, Poland on April 25, 2007.
His story is familiar to many. Charles Gayle, the many times homeless saxophonist, plays his signature firebrand music and testifies to his religious faith in equal measure. Known for his tenor, he also plays the piano (an early instrument for him) with his unique style that is simultaneously old school and modern. Here he is recorded in his familiar trio format playing live in Lodz, Poland in 2007. Gayle's playing partners are the frequent bassist Hilliard Greene and drummer Klaus Kugel. The less than perfect audio does not distract from the intensity of these tracks. Gayle delivers five originals, John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and the traditional song "Forgiveness." In contrast to his masterpiece, Touchin' On Trane (FMP, 1993), this session does not have an urgency about it. Perhaps Gayle has mellowed (not likely) or he is merely making his point with a different voice. His alto saxophone chisels lines that border on Albert Ayler's chants, but are unique to Gayle. He favors coloring the music with varying vibrato and stamina. Greene and Kugel are excellent partners following the lead and occasionally soloing. The signature tune "Giant Steps" is introduced before the trio spins off into spitting and sputtering fits of energy, referencing the classic, but tearing the flesh from its bones. It's a good place to begin, in order to grasp his concept of playing, as it supplies a reference for the originals tracks. By the closing track, "Forgiveness," Gayle's agenda is clear. His lubricious tone has made a convincing statement.
(Mark Corroto, AllAboutJazz)