Charles Gayle is one of the most powerful musicians one may ever have the pleasure to listen to. His uncompromising sound, energy, fury and spirituality make him a truly compelling figure. His music has gathered enormous accolades from an incredibly small circle of listeners (The Penguin Guide to Jazz deems his Touchin' on Trane an "essential recording"). Not only is there the music, there is the legend.
Charles Gayle, born February 28, 1939 in Buffalo, New York, reportedly participated in the free jazz scene of the 1960s and early 1970s in NYC. From then until sometime in the mid-1980s, Gayle was often homeless, relegated to playing his tenor saxophone on the streets. The story of his homelessness and subsequent fame in jazz circles can be read as uplifting; a study in conviction, perseverance, faith and survival.
While primarily known for his fiery sax work, in recent years he has returned to his first instrument, the piano. He has also experimented with the bass clarinet, the viola and drums on several of his albums. He has recorded and played with some of the best musicians in jazz: William Parker, Cecil Taylor, Rashied Ali, Peter Kowald, Milford Graves, Alan Silva, Sunny Murray, Henry Grimes, Sirone and John Tchicai and has been associated with alternative rockers Henry Rollins and Thurston Moore. He frequently plays with the trio By Any Means, featuring Rashied Ali on drums and William Parker on bass.