Saturday, September 10, 2005

Eddie Gale - Black Rhythm Happening (Blue Note, 4 Men With Beards 1970, 2004)

Trumpeter and composer Eddie Gale was at the right place at the wrong time. Blue Note was open to different ideas and Gale's mix of spontaneous music and arranged voices was right up their alley. Unfortunately, Blue Note was bought around this time by United Artists, and after this album Gale's unique music was scrapped. Luckily, Gale's two Blue Note albums Ghetto Music and Black Rhythm Happening have been reissued on CD and LP by the wonderfully named 4 Men With Beards label.

As you can imagine by the title of the album, rhythm and groove play a big element in this music. While the band led by Gale's trumpet are playing modal and free jazz, the vocal choir is singing and chanting in a gospel and R&B mode. It's something akin to the music Sun Ra was making during this period, but make no mistake, even though he had spent some time in Ra's band, Gale was his own man. There are some heavy hitters on this record like Jimmy Lyons and Elvin Jones that keep the music fresh and exciting as well. This is an interesting and unusual record that shows what is possible with the intelligent fusing of genres.

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