Thursday, January 09, 2020

Charles Gayle / John Edwards / Mark Sanders - Seasons Changing (Otoroku, 2019)

At eighty years of age, saxophonist and pianist Charles Gayle can’t quite summon the fire and brimstone fervor that he once presented on records recorded during the during the late eighties and early nineties, but as this album shows, the march of time may actually work in his favor. Placing him amid the open minded, empathetic and very talented bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders was an inspired idea, and leads to two sets of genuinely inspired free jazz that works well as a three way conversation. They perform two lengthy sets, each contained on a separate disc or file, and Gayle can work with tenor or alto saxophone with great facility, but the fact that he can’t quite squall and rage in the highest range of his horns any longer forces him to delve deeply into his individual technique for playing the horns, cutting and slashing, creating pithy phrases with shorter bursts that engage deeply with the complex and ever changing rhythm developed by the bass and drums. It’s this sense of teamwork, their collective improvisations that that grow and develop over the course of the sets that is the nature of the album’s success. Whereas in years past, Gayle’s stamina and savage power could bludgeon anyone performing with him into submission, in this case, his attack is fleet and dexterous, flowing with the bass, cavorting with the percussion. He is playing with the same passion, but has become self aware enough to temper with this with some hard won grace and humility that suits his music very well. Edwards has played with Gayle on other occasions and works mindfully with him, supporting the music and also take impressive strong and dexterous bass solos when appropriate, and Sanders acquits himself equally well, pushing and pulling along with Gayle’s unique and idiosyncratic timing, and using the totality of the drum kit to allow the maximum percussion input into the music. Gayle will move to piano a few times over the course of the album, he picks his spots well with his individual and distinctive keyboard touch adding just the right amount of seasoning to an otherwise saxophone dominated program. Overall, this album worked very well, Gayle was in fine voice, discovering a way to use the changing nature of his musical approach to lend a freshness that stimulated his playing partners and resulted in an admirable evening of music. Seasons Changing -

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