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Ancient of Days

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Album Review

Charles Gayle is not breaking any new ground with Ancient of Days, but it is the most consistent of his "restrained" albums since Touchin' on Trane. Each song on the album builds with a quiet intensity, gliding between standard jazz and late-era John Coltrane. Piano player Hank Johnson keeps things under control, while bassist Juini Booth sounds more like Jimmy Garrison than William Parker. Only on the last track, "Glorified Love," does Gayle show off the saxophone pyrotechnics displayed on such landmark releases as Repent and More Live at the Knitting Factory. Ancient of Days is an interesting listen in its demonstration of how Gayle's furious playing has evolved. Where it was once sandpaper, it's now a sanded piece of oak — smooth, yet covered with knots.


Born: 28 February 1939 in Buffalo, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Charles Gayle 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. The tenor saxophonist's hyper-kinetic free expressionism draws on stylistic devices pioneered in the '60s by the late free jazz icon Albert Ayler. Like Ayler, Gayle employs a huge tone which, more often than not, he splits into its individual harmonic components. Timbral distortion is a key aspect of Gayle's work. His...
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Ancient of Days, Charles Gayle
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