By Any Means
Live at Crescendo


I was lucky enough to catch this trio live only once. That was in July 1995 at the Nickelsdorf festival, where to be blunt, they ripped off the wooden roof in the backyard of Hans Falb's restaurant. Each member was playing as if there were no tomorrow, as if this was the final gig they would play together. Every single note held weight. If I remember correctly, they must have played for close to two hours straight but still, the audience was left in a state of hunger. Having only recorded one CD - 1992's "Touchin' on Trane" - the trio sat on the back burner of its individual members with occasional appearances at festivals. That is, until now, when their October 2007 concert at Club Crescendo in Norrkoping, Sweden sees the light of day in its entirety. It's funny that a good number of people have referred to this quartet as the finest tribute that John Coltrane has ever had. While there is some truth to this statement, I always envisioned this music to be closer to Ayler than Coltrane. In its explosive force, Charles Gayle gives his all. As he rages on his alto, his lines are once jagged, once straightforward. They're inspired by Ayler and Coltrane, informed by blues and soaked in real life experiences of living the harsh life. Likewise with Rashied Ali [Coltrane's finest drummer]. His sense of timing is impeccable, while his driving rhythms keep the trio unified and focused. No doubt, William Parker is a force to be reckoned with on the bass. Here, he comes across as a beast and a lamb in one form. He runs the gamut from forceful finger picking manoeuvres through to subtle arco passages. The band changes directions quite often. As they move from fire music, through ragged improvisations, through to melodicism that is found in their unique form of wrenching blues, one realizes that what this two CD shows off is a multi-faceted face. While on "Touchin' on Trane" the band wore the mask of fire music practitioners, here they show evidence of growth as a unit. Completely satisfying in every possible way, the trio is raging hot, full of wit and energy to spare. It is concerts like these that I regret not attending the most. Tom Sekowski

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