Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Charles Gayle Trio – Christ Everlasting (2015)

Charles Gayle Trio

Charles Gayle - tenor saxophone, piano
Ksawery Wojcinski - double bass
Klaus Kugel - drums

Christ Everlasting


By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording at Poznan's club Dragon of a trio led by American saxophonist/pianist/composer Charles Gayle with Polish bassist Ksawery Wojcinski and German drummer Klaus Kugel. The trio performs nine tunes, four of which are standards and the other five are group compositions/improvisations credited to all trio members.

Gayle arrived on the US scene as "the new discovery/profit" of Free Jazz in the late 1980, after years of performing as a homeless street musician. I have followed his recordings over the years and I must admit that somehow Gayle has failed to convince me to be anything more than a curiosity. His extreme political and religious views aside, his "music" is a raw collection of sounds uttered with great intensity and emotion, but it does not "compute" as music in my brain – my bad of course – despite my passionate love for that kind of music. In retrospect Gayle's recordings hardly advanced the Free Jazz/Improvised Music idiom in a global sense and everything he does was already done in the 1960s, much more effectively as far as I can see.

That does not mean of course that his concerts are not worth attending and his albums not worth being heard, at least as far as one does not expect to be "enlightened". This particular gig caught on this album is pretty typical of Gayle's concerts but has a wonderful added value of the excellent rhythm section, which literally saves the day. Wojcinski and Kugel, both experienced and talented Improvised Music figures, add the missing musical element to Gayle's music, the depth and the interface, which enables a player/audience communication.

Overall this is an interesting amalgam of free spirited, almost anarchist improvisation with solid and often virtuosic "sensible" rhythm section, which prevents the anarchy to take over completely. The Free Jazz fans will definitely enjoy this music, if not immediately than after a few attempts; more conventionally oriented listeners beware, you have been warned.

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