Friday, September 21, 2007

Review: Charles Gayle/William Parker/Mark Sanders at the Everyman Bistro, Liverpool, September 17th 2007...

The gig venue is beneath the Everyman theatre in Liverpool, part of the Bistro complex of three rooms. Passing through the other two, you come to the performance space – oblong, with table seating. People fill the place up, with quite a few latecomers (what's new there?) but a creditable crowd. Frakture obviously know how to get the vote out, as it were... They got their money's worth...

The musicians take their places at the end of the room – no stage. No P.A. - which wouldn't be needed in this space anyway, a small amp for the bass the only added electricity. These three will generate plenty of their own over the next two sets... Mark Sanders, almost boyish in comparison to his two cohorts tonight on this tour – Charles Gayle and William Parker, stalwarts of the vibrant New York 'free jazz' scene -and beyond. Both striking figures yet contrasted – Parker, a large bear of a man as befits a bass player, maybe, of his power, smiling, almost avuncular. Gayle, a ramrod thin tall man, with a serious face that has a clouded, mysteriously inward look to it (although I saw him in the interval in conversation and he smiled frequently, displaying a completely different facet to his character). They start up, Gayle floating lines across a quickly busy backdrop from bass and drums – although this is no sax plus rhythm show – each part of the trio is integral to the sound. Gayle is playing a white plastic alto rather than his usual tenor – an iconic instrument. And you can trace the lineage from Bird – blindingly fast playing - to Ornette – a strong melodic freedom and a way of floating across a busy rhythm before locking back in with a vengeance – via Eric Dolphy (to my ears) in some of the skittering intervallic jumps. Yet Gayle is manifestly his own man, a veteran whose mysterious roots go back to the free jazz days of the sixties – he is older than Parker and the younger Sanders - a superior technique fine-honed down the years that may pay homage where applicable but flows free with his own strong voice. Gayle is renowned for his squalling, screaming intensity yet held back some of this tonight to concentrate on spirals of fast-moving melody – laced with a fair share of vocal inflection and high-register playing yet these all seemed integrated into his overall style – moving effortlessly and at a dizzying speed between what effect he feels necessary to enhance the proceeding line. Parker takes a bass solo which is muddied a little by the room's acoustic but still displays his warm virtuosity. Sanders takes his moment, a hard-hitting solo, rhythmic density and movement effortlessly slapped out - he more than holds his own in this company throughout. Towards the end of the set Parker hits a walk a couple of times to balance and colour the intensity – because this is high-octane stuff – answered by the others as they move into more conventional swinging patterns. At the end, the place is rapturous – you are aware that you have witnessed something special – yoo hoo! Wild music that hits the head, heart and feet...

Second set. After all that preceding fire, one wonders, can they hold that level throughout? To which the answer is: YES! A similar easy-going start before Gayle hits his declamatory phrases – Parker using arco bass a couple of times to saw out jagged lines at a higher volume, at one point chasing a motif he dropped in and out of throughout across the registers, coming off with an amazing slithering glissando up and down the neck executed with virtuosic control, essaying swooning vocalised figures that seemed to be telling a joke of some kind. Gayle blows wild and free, then drops back to play a frail melody that opens up the space and lets the drums through, emphasizing the equality of this band. The music becomes more pointillistic to contrast with the overall multi-noted density, Gayle fragmenting his line. Deep into the set Parker is swaying at his bass with a joy that comes across vividly. Towards the end they just lift off to stunning levels of wild intoxication – Sanders takes another solo, smacking high harmonics off his cymbals, stick between teeth as he used a hand to hammer his drums – truly music of the body as well as the mind. Coming in to the end you realise that these guys just do not FALTER. Gayle lets rip, fast and hard in a ferocious interlocking dance with bass and drums to produce music that reaches deep down into my soul and rips it AWAKE.

AWESOME...

William Parker:

"...it is the role of the artist to incite political, social, and spiritual revolution, to awaken us from our sleep and never let us forget our obligations as human beings, to light the fire of human compassion. Sounds that enlighten are infinite. We can put no limit to joy, or on our capacity for love."

(From here... ).

Finally: thanks to Frakture for providing such a great gig – I know only too well what a hassle and sometimes thankless task organising these occasions can be. Applause all round... And I had a great time in Liverpool – looking forward to the next visit...

4 comments:

mapsadaisical said...

Going to see them tonight in London. After reading your review I am excited beyond words.

Rod... said...

saw them again last night in derby -just as good - really - catch this band while you can!

Matt said...

Nice review ;) Just seen them at the Red Rose, London... Pretty amazing!! Recorded for Jazz on 3, going out 5th October, apparently ;p

Rod... said...

I was hoping they would record it - thanks for the info!