Album Review

Gayle, Charles Trio – “Streets” – [Northern-spy]

abacus   2/8/2012   CD, Jazz

Carnivalesque, broken street sounds and frantic soul searching from Charles Gayle, still with all the guttural intensity that he adopted playing the streets of NYC for decades before being pulled into the recording studios in the mid-80s. Here he resurrects a character Streets the Clown that he enacted throughout the 90s to put forth his message. Though Gayle also plays piano, bass clarinet and more recently, bass, here he is on his bread and butter tenor sax with his bread and butter lineup bass-drums. Roland’s articulate harmonizing keeps the explorations firmly rooted in jazz territory while never falling stagnant while Thompson telepathically punctuates every statement with gusto. Gayle’s sound is huge and spiritual in the vein of Ayler, Coltrane blending blues, bop and gospel with some very raw, bestial inflections. (1) starts off strong with scalding hot licks all around while (2) is a little more restrained, almost wry and witty. (3) Gets boisterous and (4) brings a merry-go-round sound from the gospel clown that gradually breaks down to a waddling frown. (5) marching band rhythm manifests into a driving funky bop groove and swirls and crumbles to a fiery vortex while (6) displays some contemplative lyricism as a more tragic ballad with hopeful leanings. (7) closes with a viciously confrontational piece that is so exposed and naked it is painfully gut wrenching. Gayle’s sound has drifted into melodious territory lately as he reignites his spiritual underpinnings. Even at 72, he still seems to be finding himself.

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