Live at Glenn Miller Café
Playing alto saxophone rather than his usual tenor, this live set encapsulates New York-based Charles Gayles art bruit. Often described as a throwback to the no-holds-barred Energy Music of the 1960s, the reedist invests his performances with enough verve and perspicacity that its as if that exploratory decade never ended.
Demonstrative as well as discordant, his strident runs and choked vibrato allow him to practically recompose tunes such as Giant Steps and Cherokee. Meanwhile his glossolalia coupled with the strident rhythms of drummer Michael Wimberley and bassist Gerald Benson give standards like Whats New and Softly As In A Morning Sunrise an inchoate dissonance similar to the interface exhibited on shrieking and dissonant Gayle originals.
Often playing altissimo, the saxophonist masticates phrases and timbres, then spits them out double-tongued and with a wide vibrato. The most characteristic work is on two extended tracks. Chasing/Praising The Lord, for instance, arches upwards from Gayles crying split tones and flattement to the trio members alternating strident, resonating instrumental timbres with guttural speaking-in-tongues, evocations of divine mercy and Gods name.
Wimberlys tympani rolls and Bensons legato arco swells bounce and ripple behind the saxophonists yodeling broken tones on Holy Redemption. When he extends the track with Albert Aylers Ghosts tremolo bugle-call-like variations meld with sul tasto bass work and blunt percussion attacks to toughen the familiar theme and make it more abstract.
Live is a characteristic, reflection of Gayles alternately secular and scared art.
-- Ken Waxman
For Whole Note Vol. 12 #3
November 1, 2006