Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Charles Gayle - Our Souls (NoBusiness, 2009)

Free jazz saxophonist and pianist Charles Gayle has had a fascinating career moving from busking in subways to playing live around the world. This album is a well played trio outing that is very free, but well controlled, with Gayle focusing on alto saxophone and piano improvising with Dominic Duval on bass and Arkadijus Gotesmanas on drums and percussion. The lengthy performance of "Hearts Cry" opens the album with raw saxophone and drums reaching deep. Duval gets a bass interlude that he uses to explore silence and space, before making way for Gotesmanas with brushes, beats and scrapes. Gayle returns strong and leads the three on a raw and exciting collective improvisation, getting a deep and gritty/granular tone from his saxophone. "The Flood" has spare piano with percussion and bass, developing into an ominous performance that rumbles darkly. The music darts and weaves, skittering into a caffeinated trio section as dynamic waves of music attack and recede. Fast bass and dexterous brushes begin "Love Changes" with Gayle adding long tones of yearning saxophone, and developing a three way collective improvisation that becomes a raw and unfettered performance. "Compassion" has probing saxophone and thoughtful, subtle bass that has a thick and elastic tone that stretches and compresses time. Strong, supple and controlled saxophone works within the group, never overwhelming, developing to an interesting section of bowed bass and light saxophone swirls. The album is concluded with "Our Souls," opening with abstract bowed bass and percussion and spare piano notes ringing. Saxophone and percussion sounding raw and distant pick up the pace to a near frantic level abetted by strong drumming and sawing bass and chanting to a wild conclusion. This was a strong and powerful album for freely improvised jazz, and one of the more accessible Gayle led sessions I have heard. Duval was superb throughout acting like a pivot point for the saxophone, piano and drums to revolve. Gotesmanas played a variety of percussion that kept the rhythm constantly shifting and Gayle was lucid and thoughtful on both instruments making for a very solid and powerful set of music. Our Souls - NoBusiness Records

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