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The Final Nite & Other Poems: Complete Notes From A Charles Gayle Notebook 1987-2006

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The Final Nite & Other Poems: Complete Notes From A Charles Gayle Notebook 1987-2006
Steven Dalachinsky
248 pages
ISBN: 1-933254-15-7
Ugly Duckling Press
2006

During the last Vision Festival, Brooklyn-based poet and jazz connoisseur Steven Dalachinsky introduced an eagerly anticipated reunion of saxophonist Charles Gayle's By Any Means Trio by calling Gayle "the amazing inspiration of my life". Dalachinsky's new collection of poems, The Final Nite & Other Poems: Complete Notes From A Charles Gayle Notebook 1987-2006, was written entirely spontaneously while listening to Gayle's live performances, including his spoken word ones.

The book offers an insightful biographical journal of Gayle as a spiritual artist. It also includes many telling observations about the emotional and intellectual effect of experiencing such passionate and heartfelt music as Gayle's. As Dalachinsky stresses: language is not words (or perhaps more accurately, doesn't have to be words).

The first poem chronicles the Gayle Trio with bassist Hill Green and drummer Dave Pleasant at the Knitting Factory in 1987. It was the first time that Dalachinsky had heard Gayle play. The poem was later used as part of the liner notes for Gayle's album Homeless (Silkheart, 1989). Other poems concern lost musical spaces such as Ray Taylor's Living Room, missed collaborations with drummer and healer Milford Graves, and unique moments like the first time Gayle played the piano, viola or the drums on stage—and the first time that he sang "Motherless Child" (in the Tonic in 2005).

In this collection, Dalachinsky rarely views Gayle as a private individual, struggling to get recognition for his art and make a decent living. He only mentions in passing, for instance, that Gayle doesn't own a piano, and that he practices at home on a wooden board. But he is content with Gayle's advice after losing a notebook of poems: "What's gone is gone. You walk on a new road. Create more." That seems to be the essence of Gayle's artistic philosophy.

Dalachinsky believes the simplest musical action—breathing—to be fundamental and empowering. When practised by such a titanic player as Gayle he believes it approaches transformative cosmic power. At another point, Dalachinsky describes a performance of the Gayle Quartet at the Knitting Factory in 1992, where Gayle played the spirituals "Swing Low, Swing Chariot" and "Amazing Grace," in similar terms.

A poetic and moving documentation of an artist's art and its impact, written by one extraordinary man about another.


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