This week the Voice sat down with New York jazz titan Charles Gayle, whose new album Streets portends a man on a quest to find peace within his craft and headspace. Gayle and Tom Surgal (of local avant-jazz stalwarts White Out) go way back to the revered '80s downtown era, and the percussionist, via email, reflected on their history together. "In many ways, I've always thought that Charles's life mirrors the life of Coltrane, in that he too was lost and then he was found," Surgal said.
"Charles was floundering in his earlier life, leading a dissolute existence, and then he experienced a spiritual awakening and he was saved. And like Trane, his playing began to reflect the new found intensity of a man on a righteous path. There has always been a sense of urgency to his playing, like he was making up for lost time. And also like Trane, he has always practiced relentlessly. I know people who used to live in his old squat who claimed he never stopped playing. A lesser-known facet to Charles's personality is that he possesses enormous curiosity about the human condition. He is always studying people and has keen insights in to the way peoples' minds work. I've always thought he has the intellectual predisposition more characteristic of an author than a musician. This stirring need in him to fathom those around him no doubt feeds in to the dimensionality of his playing, help making him the consummate musician that he is."
Here, Gayle delves even deeper into Streets and his inspiring trajectory.More »