Charles Gayle Trio

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Streets Review

by Robert Ham

The sad clown image of Charles Gayle that adorns the cover of his latest album is something that jazz fans in his native New York have seen for years now, as the 72-year-old musician likes to paint himself up like this for live performances. As a commentary on his life as a performer who has seen the dark side of humanity, having spent 20 years without a home, it is a brilliant piece of social commentary. And considering the wintry economic climate, it's no wonder that he's put it front and center on Streets. The music spewed out by Gayle and his rhythm section (Michael T.A. Thompson on drums, Larry Roland on bass) doesn't carry a whiff of remorse. Instead, the trio is as fiery as ever, tearing through seven tracks of unhinged jazz instrumentals. Gayle's spiritual side comes out throughout this disc, not only via song titles like "Doxology" and "Glory & Jesus," but also from his impassioned tenor sax playing. It helps too that he is urged on to even more sky-scraping heights by his sidemen. Roland especially proves himself a more than capable foil for Gayle, particularly when he breaks out the bow to bend and whine his basslines on the title track and "Doxology."

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