CHARLES GAYLE TRIO
Live at Glenn Miller Café

[Ayler Records, www.ayler.com]

My interest in Charles Gayle's music never died. Rather, after years of intense devotion, it simply waned. After seeing the man in so many diverse combinations - Gayle / Ali / Parker, Morris / Gayle, solo piano and sax recitals - the thrill of the moment fizzled out, though never was it to be forgotten. It's a good thing Ayler Records released this live document or else memories of Gayle would have faded away. Recorded on a February night earlier this year at the infamous Glenn Miller Café in Stockholm, this live document perfectly captures the energy and intensity of Gayle's latest working unit. It's rather shocking to find so many cover versions here - Ray Noble's "Cherokee", Hammerstein/Romberg's "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise", Coltrane's "Giant Steps", Haggart/Burke's "What's New" and Ayler's "Ghosts". In fact, only three pieces are Gayle originals, which leads me to the question, is the man getting too comfortable in his music?Is it simpler for him to re-do other people's work at this point and time?Musically, it's still the Gayle I recall, though sadly, in a few points, much of the intensity seems to be lacking. You can't get that intensity when you're busy paying homage on "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise". It just doesn't come across. Other than that little mishap, Gayle's sheer force shines through and through. The way he attacks Coltrane's "Giant Steps" with his full-frontal alto is nothing short of mesmerizing as is his homage to Ayler on "Ghosts". Rhythm section made up of bassist Gerald Benson and percussionist Michael Wimberly is exceptionally tight, always driving the music forwards and brining it to new levels of intensity. Overlooking everything on the cover version front, this is still squelching and devotional music as ever. Some things just never change.

-Tom Sekowski


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