Sunday, February 07, 2016

Charles Gayle/William Parker/Hamid Drake - Live at Jazzwerkstatt Peitz (Jazzwerkstatt, 2015)

It is had to think of a more explosive and experienced group of American free jazz musicians than tenor saxophonist and pianist Charles Gayle, bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake. They have played with each other many times over the years in different configurations and they are peers with the utmost respect for one and other. “Fearless” is the perfect name for the opening track, a twenty-eight minute blowout of collective improvisation and tremendous power. Drake and Parker make an extraordinary team, but they go much farther that a standard rhythm section would go, stretching and molding the time and rhythm of the music, and alternatingly supporting and weaving Gayle back into the music. The saxophonist sounds great, leaving aside his alter ego Streets and keeping his holy roller ranting under control, Gayle devotes his whole energy into the music, not falling into any patterns but committing with Parker and Drake to create in real time over an epic scale. After this massive slab of music they shift gears and Gayle moves to the piano, shifting back to his spiritual roots on “Gospel” where he engages with Parker and Drake beautifully, developing a piano sound akin to Thelonious Monk, with a strong physicality to his playing and a sense of the mysterious and the unexpected, which is accentuated but a wonderful bass solo by William Parker. On “Texturen” Gayle stays with the piano, seeming to tease “Well, You Needn’t” just a hair before moving into a much freer trio improvisation. Parker is the linchpin to this performance too; his bass playing is so supple and assured as to reach sublime heights. A slow opening tune, “Angels” builds pace until there is an astonishing bowed bass solo by William Parker, whose playing on this album has become transcendent. Gayle does move back to tenor saxophone for the take no prisoners “Encore” where he lets loose concentrated peals of sound with Parker and Drake offering an ever changing landscape underneath. They are truly playing in the moment and creating in real time as the spirit moves them and it is a thrilling thing to hear. They keep the strong collective improvisation up all they way to the finish line. This was a very exciting album, the musicians were locked in with each other throughout and the empathy and compassion that they have developed with each other and for music as a whole are heard in every note of this excellent album. Live at Jazzwerkstatt Peitz -

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