Music Program

Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.

Charles Gayle Trio


Charles Gayle (alto saxophone, piano)
Hilliard Greene (contrabass)
Michael Wimberly (drums)

Born February 28, 1939. Charles Gayle blew down with hurricane force - the pun is too obvious - out of Buffalo, N.Y. He drifted in and out of the first great free jazz scenes of the Sixties, playing with Pharoah, Archie Shepp, and other trailblazers. But he says now that his sound then was even more fiery and forceful than it is now, and he couldn't get a recording date. He drifted. He became homeless. He lived as a squatter in an abandoned Lower East Side tenement. He found Jesus.

He kept playing. His music retained its hard industrial edge. It sent listeners through the wall. It busted them out of the day-to-day grind into a divine ecstasy. It lifted and uplifted. He developed a tremendous facility with the upper-upper register of the tenor saxophone, so that he could take his spiritual flights to their farthest reaches. He played wherever he could; his steadiest gig was in the New York subways.

Eventually lightning struck. In the late Eighties Silkheart Records recorded three discs him featuring Gayle's ecstatic, holy holy tenor. One of them, the much-overlooked Always Born, paired him with the incomparable John Tchicai, a pairing that seemed problematic at the time but which worked much better than perhaps anyone was aware then.

After that work, and recordings, came a bit more steadily. For the enigmatic German FMP label he recorded the all-time classic Touchin' on Trane with musicians as talented and passionate as he: bassist William Parker and drummer Rashied Ali, a living connection with the Coltrane legacy that Gayle so dynamically extends here. But this disc became something of an anomaly in the Gayle discography: most of the others were much more furious. Gut-wrenching, metal-tearing, pedal-to-the-floor music.

Much of it was magnificent: Testaments, Repent, and More Live at the Knitting Factory are outrageous, outlandish sonic assaults. Testaments has a rough lyricism that is captivating; the other two make adroit use of doubled strings from bassist Vattel Cherry and William Parker on cello.

On some discs Gayle himself plays viola, bass clarinet, other oddments. His bass clarinet solos are deeply felt and generally more conventionally lyrical than his tenor blasts. He plays it to particular effect on FMP's Abiding Variations. But his chief double is piano, which he has played with increasing frequency and facility in recent years. He's even planning a piano disc loaded with standards, which could change popular perceptions of him—as could the majestic and hard-won lyricism of his tenor playing on the recent Delivered and Ancient of Days? — allaboutjazz, 2000

Hilliard Greene has been studying music for more than 30 years and has been playing professionally over twenty years. His emphasis is in classical, jazz, rock, blues, R&B as well as the music of other continents and US regions. Currently he is concentrating on solo performance.

Greene has performed and/or recorded with Jimmy Scott, currently serving as his Musical Director and with Cecil Taylor where he was Concert Master for his group "Phtongos." He has also worked with Gloria Lynne, Jacky Terrasson, The Inkspots, Rashied Ali, Leroy Jenkins, Jimmy Ponder, Eddie Gladden, Vanessa Rubin, Yoron Israel, Cindy Blackman, Electric Symphony, Charles Gayle, Jack Walrath, Don Pullen, Dave Douglas, and countless others.

As a bandleader produced two CD's under with his own ensemble The Jazz Expressions and a solo bass CD entitled Alone. He teaches classes at The Bass Collective in New York City as well as privately, and conducts workshops for both children and adults. Greene performs widely in the New York City area in recitals, nightclubs, and recordings, and on television and radio programs. He has appeared in major cities throughout the United and South America.

Drummer/Percussionist Michael Wimberly has said of his previous work with Wilber Morris that "Wilber and I have a truly organic rhythmic union." He adds "musical telepathy is crucial in the rhythm section in this type of music." Wimberly's purview of musical inter-action is wide. He has toured with David Murray, Charles Gayle and Steve Coleman. His composed pieces have been commissioned by the Alvin Ailey, Urban Bush Women and Forces of Nature modern dance companies and the Jeoffrey Ballet. Wimberly has also recorded with soul vocalist D'Angelo.

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February, 2008 - 2008