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Look Up

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Audio CD, September 25, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

For his first release for ESP-Disk, we present a 1994, HIGH ENERGY performance of Charles Gayle recorded live in Santa Barbara, California playing total FIRE MUSIC. The unique complementary nuance of the group brings forth five incredible performances featuring Charles playing tenor sax, bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Michael Wimberly. Liner notes are written by journalist Russ Musto.

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ESP Disk, Ltd.
  • ASIN: B008SOT3FI
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,938 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
There was a time, two decades ago, when a dedicated cult regularly went to the old Knitting Factory (on Houston Street, when it was still mostly a jazz club) on Mondays, because for months at a time the club would have Charles Gayle play two sets every Monday night. If you were a fan of hardcore free jazz, that was THE regular gig in New York in the early '90s. The Knit gigs and concurrent CDs from Swedish imprint Silkheart, the Knit's own house label, Italian label Black Saint, and a well-received-in-Europe album on FMP, Touchin' on Trane, all boosted his profile. Further fame came when he collaborated with Henry Rollins in the mid-'90s, and the European festival circuit helped as well.

What captivated avant-garde jazz fans and appealed across genre boundaries was the unfettered energy of Gayle's tenor saxophone playing. Usually playing in a pure free-improvisation format, he would power through lengthy solos, honking and squealing, without letting the fires damp for even an instant, perfecting an organically flowing style that mixed complementary unfoldings of cellular motifs with startling contrasts, his imagination overflowing his horn as he opened a window into a musical universe of absolute freedom communicated only by the most spontaneous and gifted performers: predecessors John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Frank Wright, and Pharoah Sanders, Gayle and his contemporary Peter Brötzmann, and the next generation's David S. Ware.

Look Up comes from that mid-'90s heyday, specifically a 1994 tour date. Not everyone will agree with his preaching (I'm not being metaphorical: for the length of one track, he lectures the audience from the perspective of his Christian fundamentalism), but anyone even remotely interested in or sympathetic with the free jazz movement must acknowledge the sheer power and virtuosity of his saxophone playing.
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