3

The Charles Gayle Trio: Look Up

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
The Charles Gayle Trio: Look Up Fire-breathing saxophonist Charles Gayle has had to wait a long time for his ESP-disk debut. Allegedly, there was a 1974 session in the can, but the label folded in its earlier incarnation, before it saw the light of day. But now, a 1994 live date from Santa Monica has been issued on the revived imprint. Recorded during the spell that saw issue of such titles as Consecration (Black Saint, 1993), Kingdom Come (Knitting Factory Works, 1994) and Testaments (Knitting Factory Works, 1995), Look Up sits firmly within the reedman's high-octane period.

At this time, Gayle was the epitome of uncompromising full on power, stretching the mantle of saxophonist John Coltrane's later years by over-blowing his way through abstract long form improvisations. Other progenitors, such as saxophonist Albert Ayler, also come to mind in Gayle's co-opting of simple folk melodies as the launch pad for some of his extravaganzas, like this set's appropriately named "Homage To Albert Ayler." Not that Gayle sounds like either man. Religious similes such as preaching, prayer and incantation are often invoked to describe the reedman's passion. And aptly so, as Gayle explains in the liners that it all stems from the spirit and is dedicated to God, even if it is an expression of worship unlike that known in most churchgoing circles.

Drummer Michael Wimberly fashions a barrage of thrashing polyrhythms in response to the leader's exhortations, while bassist Michael Bisio is, for much of the time, a subliminal presence, creating a muscular undertow which comes to the surface in the quieter moments, such as the intricately strummed introduction to "I Remember Dolphy." Both the opening "Alpha" and closing "The Book Of Revelation" mine the same seam of emotionally charged oratory. However, in many ways the slightly more restrained "I Remember Dolphy," with the horn man hollering on bass clarinet, lodges in the mind longer, as the trio allows greater air to circulate between the peaks of intensity.

As fine as the playing is, two factors might give pause for thought. First is Gayle's extolling of his religious beliefs over a loose groove on "In The Name Of The Father," where he equates homosexuality and abortion with sin, the first time such sentiments appear on disc, although they have surfaced previously in occasional concert reports. Second is the grainy sound quality. Bursts of feedback and distortion, as well as muffled crowd noises betray the origins of this set as an audience recording. Newbies might find there are better places to start, while completists might get more than they bargained for in the awkwardly unvarnished actuality.


Track Listing: Alpha; Homage To Albert Ayler; I Remember Dolphy (Eric Dolphy); In The Name Of The Father; The Book Of Revelation.

Personnel: Charles Gayle: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, vocals; Michael Bisio: bass; Michael Wimberly: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: ESP Disk | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "One for Marian" CD/LP/Track Review One for Marian
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: June 14, 2016
Read "Meditations" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "Eleven Promises" CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Promises
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 30, 2016
Read "Heavy Weather" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Weather
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 24, 2017
Read "Perceive React" CD/LP/Track Review Perceive React
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 31, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!