Saturday, January 08, 2005


Recently I've been going back and listening to my collection of CDs by Charles Gayle, a high-energy free jazz tenor saxophonist. (He also plays other instruments from time to time.) In the first half of the nineties, when I was buying huge amounts of jazz and rock from Forced Exposure, they were plugging Gayle in extravagant terms, so I dutifully purchased his CDs. After listening to them a few times, I put them away and basically forgot about them. As part of my current drive to dispose of CDs that I'm not going to listen to, I pulled them out and went through them; and, unlike a lot of the music I was buying at that time, I really do find myself enjoying a lot of it. I particularly recommend Homeless, Spirits Before, Raining Fire (all Silkheart), Testaments (Knitting Factory Works), Consecration (Black Saint), and Gayle's fourteen-minute track on the anthology Avant Knitting Tours 1993 (Knitting Factory Works). Touchin' on Trane (FMP) is his most lauded album, but I found it too restrained and deliberate in its channelling of Coltrane. All the above are from 1995 or before; I don't own any of Gayle's post-1995 releases.

Wire's "Ex Lion Tamer" is the greatest song that mentions superheroes ever. And Pink Flag as a whole is pretty damn great. I am a bit sorry that they stuck "Options R" on to the end of the CD, though. Not that it isn't a good song, but the explosion of "1 2 X U" was the perfect ending to the album, and now that's spoiled. Also, the difference in production between "Options R" and the original album is very audible, and distracting.

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