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clifford_thornton

Eddie Gale (1941-2020)

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7 hours ago, ep1str0phy said:

Seizing permission to speak freely here -

Eddie was and is very important to me. ...

Thanks so much for sharing this!

Sad news, time to relisten to the two Blue Note albums - never got around finding any other recordings of his (well yes, "AfroFire", but I didn't connect with it back then, and stores allowing you to check out stuff have since died around here).

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My only exposure to Gale's music that I can recall was the relatively straight MapleShade release, A Minute With Miles. I do have the Cecil Taylor and Larry Young recordings he contributed to, but another artist to add to my gaps that need to be filled. It is a shame I only think about some of these artists when I learn of their passing and read the admiration that many have for them. 

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Thanks for reminding me of that Larry Young record -- it's been ages since I've had it down off the shelf.

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On 12/7/2020 at 4:00 AM, Chuck Nessa said:

I got the 2 lps when issued and bought the cds, but I never really connected with the music. I respect the effort.

Yep, just re-listened to his two BN albums and I feel exactly like Chuck, maybe I miss something and, yes, not being english my mother language doesn't help.

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Here's the article about Mr. Gale's passing posted on the San Jose Mercury News' website:

I'm still saddened by his passing.  Mr. Gale's concerts were always memorable experiences for me.  Thanks to him, I was able to hear, live and in-person, such musicians as Kidd Jordan, Prince Lasha and William Parker -- artists whose music I might otherwise not really have taken the time to explore.  And as if to prove "no prophet is accepted in his hometown", I recall a duo performance he did with a keyboard player at a local Borders bookstore once.  The audience scarcely outnumbered the performers.

Farewell and thank you, Mr. Gale.  May peace be with you and comfort come to your family members in this time of sorrow.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, duaneiac said:

And as if to prove "no prophet is accepted in his hometown", I recall a duo performance he did with a keyboard player at a local Borders bookstore once.  The audience scarcely outnumbered the performers.

First off, thanks to everyone for the kind words and remembrances. Not to speak on his behalf, but I sense that Eddie would have enjoyed being remembered in this way.

Second - and with the intention of demythologizing a little bit - Eddie did these kinds of gigs all the time. This was actually one of the things that caused friction - it was impossible to tell when Eddie had booked a "public rehearsal" vs. a "real gig" (his distinction). I'll never forget this one time when I barreled from Richmond out to San Jose in rush hour traffic, only to arrive at an empty bistro with six, seven band members on stage. I cut my hand open while setting up, which resulted in the hilarious image of the guitar player frantically searching for unbloodied paper towels, hardcore freebop blasting out at an audience of no one.

To speak more analytically - over time, I had a deepening feeling that this weird quirk of Eddie's performance practice was generational in nature. He came up at a time when the notion of live casual performance had different implications, and despite the passage of time and the changing topography of the music business, I still think that this is where his head was at most of the time.

But - and this is an object lesson in what it takes to survive at the fringes of this music for, what, half a century or more - Eddie was very big into the business aspects of the music. There was an entrepreneurial charisma to him that forgave some of the wobblier musical and bureaucratic decisions - you just couldn't bring yourself to be upset at anything for too long, because everything he did was just so audacious. We'd play two, three shows to middling audiences, and then out of nowhere, we'd be playing a concert hall (in the middle of nowhere) to hundreds of strangers. 

Sometimes the "company" would be a little questionable - we'd grumble about it for a bit - and two gigs later, this shredding drummer will have come out of nowhere. Then there was this one time that we played a benefit at Yoshi's - really difficult gig - in the company of John Handy, George Cables, Bobby Hutcherson, Steve Turre, and countless others. I got to hang out with those guys thanks to Eddie, and, again, I was pretty young. It still blows my mind when I think about it.

To put it a different way, late last year, I was at a gig under the leadership of a different "Great Free Jazz" musician (who I'll refrain from naming, if only because the anecdote is kind of bullshit) - not long after the gig, I heard a guy in the corner say - in the loudest, most obnoxious voice possible - "Wow. A lot of people came out here for Musician X. The last time I saw him there was absolutely no one there." Musician X was and is a superstar. What troubled me is that obnoxious voice guy clearly said it in order to convey his own cultural cache.

Obviously this isn't what you're doing, duaneiac (or anyone else where, for that matter) - I only remain troubled at this notion that the suffering in this music equates in some way to value. I think that we as acolytes and, if we're lucky, participants in this music are trained to fetishize its marginality. For me, the valuable takeaway in music like Eddie's is its ability to survive and thrive at any cost, which is as beautifully (and quaintly) American a thing as you can enjoy at a time as dark as this.

Edited by ep1str0phy

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Karl, thanks for sharing this. Were there ever any recordings made at these gigs (or in studio)? 

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3 hours ago, Д.Д. said:

Karl, thanks for sharing this. Were there ever any recordings made at these gigs (or in studio)? 

Thanks for reading all that! 

There are a handful of studio recordings, yes - though (speaking only for myself) they don't really reflect the sound of this band on stage. Our big endeavor during my tenure in the band was remaking the Blue Note material, and I sense that Eddie was looking for polished work rather than fiery extrapolation. This track is kind of in the middle:

Whatever may or may not have survived the 2010s, I know that Eddie often had a camera running at shows. There were a handful of performances, many of them in front of actual crowds, that were unreal. In my admittedly incomplete knowledge of Eddie, these performances might be considered too rough or aggressive to issue, but were they to get out, they might offer a more "honest" perspective on the way that this music communicated to both its audiences and its participants. There were things that Eddie allowed (or wanted) us to do on stage that never made it to record, and those are the moments that I'll always remember the most fondly. 

As an aside, Damon Smith recently posted about a Bay Area show that featured Eddie, Damon, Brotzmann, and Jackson Krall. They were performing for a group of school children. I feel as if Eddie was up to this kind of activity all the time, and as a player, he had a remarkable penchant for making himself heard (in the best way possible) in contexts where brevity or restraint were encouraged. I wish that more of this music had survived for posterity. 

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A nice memorial  piece was posted on San Jose Jazz's website

https://sanjosejazz.org/remembering-trumpeter-community-activist-eddie-gale/

Some might be interested in watching this coming event --

Friends and family will honor Gale with an online musical tribute on Saturday, August 8 from 2–4pm on the Eddie Gale Memorial Space Facebook page. Hosted by Clifford Brown, Jr and live-streamed from Doug Ellington’s performance space in Oakland, the event will feature both pre-recorded and live performances from Faye Carol, Marcus Shelby, Destiny Muhammad, David Leikam and more.

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