One of the right night, Gayle live is one of jazz's sublime experiences; Spirits Before will clue you why."
Kevin Whitehead, Down Beat, December 1991
Charles Gayle has appeared on the New York Club and loft scene maybe half a dozen times in the past fifteen years and somehow or other we've managed to hear him in all kinds of different settings, always forthrightly projecting his personal approach to playing. He has always been a gut player, with ideas and no fear.
To all intents and purposes, Charles was living up the streets of New York in 1987 when we approached him with the idea of letting more people hear his music. The result was that be organized a trio with Hill Green on bass and David Pleasant on drums, which made its debut at the 4th Lower East Side Music Festival. From then on the Charles Gayle Trio began to generate a great deal of excitement and interest on the New York music scene.
His music has a strength, a purity and a beauty that is completely spontaneous and devoid of pretence. We discussed his approach to the music with Charles and his reply was, "The music I am playing at this point is totally spontaneous, nothing set – just go for the Spirit, the Holy Ghost. I feel I am pushing for the Black Sanctified Spirit beyond the ego consciousness. I always feel uplifted and filled with the Holy Black Spirit – propelled (or drawn) to the unconscious."
This album represents an overture to the music and musicians who have preceeded him – Charles feels he owes them. For our part, we find that blues, gospel, avant-garde, the music of changes, etcetera – somehow all-inclusive in these works.
We've had the opportunity of hearing Charles a good deal during the past year and have begun to understand that his music is forever changing, with a constant stream of fresh ideas and new searchings. Very particular directions have been set up and pursued from one gig to the next and, as avid listeners, we can only hope that Charles Gayle's wider audience will have a chance to hear this outpouring of musical directions as they unfold.
We feel compelled to include portions of an article in the New York Times for Thursday, September 3rd, 1987, written by music critic Jon Pareles:
"The challenge of free jazz is to create coherent, compelling music without such obvious devices as melody, recurring chord sequences or a steady beat. It's a challenge that has defeated many a virtuoso since the free-jazz heyday of the 1960's. But Charles Gayle, a tenor saxopbonist, is carving out a free jazz that is muscular, impassioned, clearly structured and wonderfully volatile.
Mr. Gayle plays contours and textures rather than melodies, using a different range and technique for each composition. He gets a huge saxophone tone, whether he's playing wide-open low notes or shrieking overtones, and he holds the stage with calm dignity while generating a fusillade of music.
Mr. Gayle's trio makes music to move mountains by. We realize, of course, that words are an implication of reality. For the past forty years we've witnessed the music and musicians at first hand from generation to generation, the greats and the near-greats. On an average of four or five nights a week in all those years we've seen them all. We express this to give credence to our words when we say that Charles Gayle will definitely get your attention if you dare to listen to him.
Irving and Stephanie Stone
1. Eternal Now 07:34
2. Spirits Before 17:49
3. Heart's Nectar 09:53
4. Earth's Families 07:57
5. Give 06:49
6. Black Oil 08:04
7. Sometimes 09:03
Charles Gayle tenor saxophone
Dave Pleasant drums