36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022

Charles Gayle Trio

Charles Gayle Trio (USA):

Charles Gayle – saxes;
Hilliard Greene – db;
Klaus Kugel – dr.

Charles Gayle (b. 1939), a saxophonist, pianist, clarinettist and percussionist, is one the most bizarre personalities on free jazz scene. Some of Gayle’s history is unclear – he is not inclined to go into details when asked about his past.

He was apparently homeless for roughly 20 years, playing saxophone on street corners and subway platforms around New York City. He was poor and homeless, relying on donations from passers-by for income.

Born in Buffalo, Gayle began playing music at the age of nine. Except for a couple of years of piano lessons as a child, he was self-taught. Piano was his first and only instrument until he picked up a saxophone when he was 19. In the early 60s, he started visiting New York and jammed with Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders among other free jazz pioneers.

After moving to New York City in 1972, Gayle led life of a recluse-musician. He made his first significant impact on the free jazz scene with a series of critically acclaimed New York performances at the Knitting Factory in the mid-to late 80s.

In 1988, he gained fame through a trio of albums recorded by a Swedish label, Silkheart Records. Since then he has become a major figure in free jazz, recording for labels including FMP (Germany), Knitting Factory Records and Black Saint.

Gayle’s discography amounts to 30 albums. He has performed and recorded with Cecil Taylor, William Parker, Rashied Ali and John Tchicai.

In terms of improviser’s talent and emotional charge of his music Gayle can compete with any giant on today’s jazz scene. The saxophonist’s hyper-kinetic free expressionism draws on stylistic devices pioneered in the 60s by the late free jazz icon Albert Ayler. Timbral distortion is a key aspect of Gayle’s work. His improvisations feature huge intervallic leaps, screaming multiphonics, and a density of line that evidences a remarkable dexterity in all registers of his instrument. Gayle is also capable of great lyricism, imbued with the same bracing intensity present in his high-energy work.

Gayle’s childhood was influenced by religion, and his musical roots trace to black gospel music. His music is spiritual, and heavily inspired by the Old and New Testaments. He has explicitly dedicated several albums to God. Indeed, in his concerts Gayle often preaches a religious message and is open about his political views. Sometimes, his concerts remind performances: he dresses as a character he called “Streets the Clown,” complete with costume and face paint.

In 2001, Gayle recorded an album titled “Jazz Solo Piano”. In 2006, he followed up with a second album of solo piano, featuring original material, titled “Time Zones”.

However, Gayle’s preferred ensemble is trio, which he will introduce to “Vilnius Jazz” audience. His concerts are almost wholly improvised, and a single improvisation can last the length of a set.

Double bassist and composer Hilliard Greene has been playing music for more than 30 years. He studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and the University of Northern Iowa.

For 16 years, Greene has been a member and music director of his ensemble “The Jazz Expressions”. He performs widely, works as a sideman in studios, and conducts workshops around the world.

The double bassist does not restrict himself to jazz he also plays classical, rock, blues and R&B. He is among the few double bass virtuosos playing solo recitals. His instrument can sound like a flamenco guitar or percussion, a wailing horn or a powerful organ.

Greene has performed and recorded with Jimmy Scott and Cecil Taylor. He has also worked with Gloria Lynne, Jacky Terrasson, Rashied Ali, Leroy Jenkins, Eddie Gladden, Yoron Israel, Cindy Blackman, Jack Walrath, Dave Douglas, Bobby Watson, Kenny Barron, and Oliver Lake among other jazz luminaries.

Klaus Kugel is one of the most inventive and adventurous German drummers. He has appeared in Lithuania many times playing with Petras Vyšniauskas and “Ganelin Trio Priority”, and earlier this year he came to Vilnius with the legendary Jemeel Moondoc’s group.

Kugel studied at the School of Jazz in Munich. Over the past twenty years, he has toured throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Syria, Russia, the Ukraine and China.

List of his stage partners is impressive – Tomasz Stanko, Karl Berger, Charlie Mariano, Kent Carter, Michael Pilz, Theo Jorgensmann, Kenny Wheeler, Bobo Stenson, Sabir Mateen, Vijay Iyer, Arkady Shilkloper, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Natalka Polovynka, Glen Moore, Robert Dick, Peter Evans, John Lindberg and Louie Belogenis to name but a few.

Currently, he is involved in 20 projects.

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