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Charles Gayle Quartet
Blue Shadows

Cat. No.: SHCD157

Personnel:
Charles Gayle  tenor saxophone, viola
William Parker  bass, cello, half-size violin
Vattel Cherry  bass, kalimba, bells
Michael Wimberly  drums

Track Listing:
1. Inside the Sun (C. Gayle) 2:59
2. Blue Shadows (C. Gayle) 11:28
3. Eternity Promised 1 (C. Gayle) 17:12
4. Eternity Promised 2 (C. Gayle) 2:07
5. Hearts to Jesus (C. Gayle) 17:49
6. Soul’s Time (C. Gayle) 3:06
7. In Sorrow (C. Gayle) 13:37
8. Snap (C. Gayle) 1:51

Total time: 70:23
 
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Liner Notes

When Keith Knox and I founded Silkheart Records in 1984, our main objective was to present the “new American jazz”, but also to record the lesser-known, under-recorded heroes of the seventies loft scene époque.
We got off to a brisk start with the latter category by recording Charles Brackeen, Booker T., Ahmed Abdullah, The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Charles Tyler et al.
About 1985 I had heard a tenorist playing in two separate locations in Manhattan, at the Times Square subway station and around Grand Central. His playing was challenging to say the least, but I didn’t pay too much attention at that time, unlike bassist Hilliard Greene whose attention was grabbed immediately (see his interview in Cadence, August 2006).
A year or so later a friend sent Keith a tape of a tenor player, which he passed over to me. The sound quality was terrible and I didn’t think much of the music. I was told that the tenorist’s name was Charles Gayle and that he was homeless. I did not immediately drop the project and for some reason I was curious, so that when I visited NYC at some time in 1986 and learned that Charles was to play in a small apartment in Soho, I went there to hear him and realized it was the tenor player I’d heard in the subway. The performance was quite disappointing in my opinion, because the music never really took off. Hilliard Greene played electric bass, Dave Pleasants was overly active and the acoustics were terrible. I told Keith that this appeared to be a dead end.
However, a couple of months later a friend sent me another tape by the same trio from another hole in the wall, maybe it was the Gas Station in Alphabet City.
The music was fantastic – innovative, original, energetic – it had everything. So Keith and I rapidly decided to record. But how do you communicate and discuss contracts etc from a distance with someone who is homeless? Luckily Charles had met Irving and Stephanie Stone in Brooklyn around this time, and it meant we were able to communicate through them.
Although I like Hill Green and since this was Charles’ debut recording, I wanted to continue my long musical relationship with Sirone, who I knew could really propel a reedman like Charles into new heights. Charles agreed to use Sirone and we eventually decided to make three CDs in April 1988, “Homeless” (SHCD 116) with Gayle, Sirone and Pleasants, “Spirits Before” (SHCD 117) with the same trio and a quartet recording with Gayle on tenor, John Tchicai on tenor and soprano, Sirone on bass and Reggie Nicholson on drums,“Always Born” (SHCD 115). I think in retrospect we can conclude that overall this had been a highly succcessful musical adventure.
I continued to stay in touch with Charles over the years, mostly by going to his concerts.
In the early nineties, Charles´ career had really taken off worldwide. I suggested a new recording session with two basses and two drummers. After a lengthy delay Charles came back and suggested two bass players and one drummer. He would design the instrumentation.
In January 1993 Keith, Steve Dalachinsky, Yuko Otomo and I and sundry others, curiously awaited the band at the House of Music recording studio in West Orange, N.J.
Charles was on tenor sax, bass clarinet and viola, William Parker on bass, cello and half-size violin, Vattel Cherry on bass, kalimba and bells and (to us) a totally new drummer, Michael Wimberly.
We recorded about five hours of incredible music from which Keith selected 71 minutes for Volume 1, “Translations” (SHCD 134) and I selected 71 minutes for Volume 2, “Raining Fire” (SHCD 137).
Seven or eight years later I asked Charles if he would be interested in releasing some of the remaining material from the New Jersey sessions but he was totally against it. He said his music had taken new turns and our old recordings were all history.
However, I did not give up the idea and when we recorded “Configuration” in 2004 (SHCD 155) with Sirone and Billy Bang with Charles on alto I brought it up again and Charles promised to consider the idea.
When Charles was on a European tour the following year and played at Club Crescendo in Norrköping, I went there to discuss the project again. I must say, Charles responded in a very positive way and we signed a contract some time later. Keith dug out the original session tapes and selected an hour as a proposal. I rearranged some of the material from Keith´s suggestion and proposed eight songs altogether which feature tenor sax throughout to a total time of 70 minutes.
The music is every bit as strong as I recall it 14 years ago and I’m very grateful to Charles that this music is now made available and not shelved in a box somewhere.
So it goes.

Lars-Olof Gustavsson
Stockholm April 19, 2007
 
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