Arthur Doyle Group Tonic New York, NY January 18, 2006
While the legendary Arthur Doyle appeared a bit lost amidst the microphones surrounding his seat on stage, the soul of the man rolled on through the young cadre of musicians who joined him on stage (Yes, Daniel Carter is still young) and the heart-felt excitement he spurred from the small group of devotees who came out to witness this rare performance. Peerless as he imparts ancient musical secrets through his otherworldly singing, Doyle is one of the last great mystery men of the free jazz African soul experiment. And through a late-career rediscovery, he has inspired a whole generation of young improvisers with his paradoxical style. Maybe it's the simplicity of his tender repetitions or the stammering velocity of his lines, but there is something at once easy and unknowable in his voice. He sings and plays from somewhere beyond time and his tunes are unforgettable yet next to impossible to repeat.
Joined by Ed Wilcox (drums), Dave Cross (turntables), Vinnie Paternostro (synth), Daniel Carter (sax), and R. Nuuja sampling and manipulating Doyle, the set was short, fun and experimental. Full of smiles, Doyle gave Carter a few turns at the wheel while he relaxed back in his seat, absorbing the sound until he would burst forth with some more brilliant singing, reminiscent of his recent recordings like the Arthur Doyle Electro-Acoustic Ensemble Plays the African Love Call (Ecstatic YOD 2001) and the Egg Head 7 (Hel's Half Halo 2003). Some say he's mad, but I say he's magick, manifesting beauty out of dark chaos with a smile.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.