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Buell Neidlinger: Gayle Force

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Cut in drummer John Bergamo’s Buffalo, N.Y., living room just over half a century ago, these five tracks-four of them entirely improvised-are of tremendous historical interest. Although bassist Buell Neidlinger is the nominal leader and the man running the recorder, the titular “Gayle” is the biggest draw: tenor saxophonist Charles Gayle, whose playing is captured on tape here for the first time, 23 years before the release of his debut studio album. (In the interim, he spent more than a decade living on the streets of New York and blowing his horn for spare change.)

So what did the young Gayle sound like? Pretty much exactly as you’d expect given the year (1965): big, bold and brash; heavily indebted to Ornette, Trane and Ayler; specializing in searingly fast arpeggios, dying-chicken shrieks and raspy overblowing. The frenzy gets tiring before long, but as the album progresses, Gayle shows a few different sides as well. A run through “Lonely Woman” is surprisingly meditative, and there are distinct flashes of whimsy in “Olden Gearings.” All the while, Bergamo provides skittering counterpoint in the classic Rashied Ali manner.

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