Charles Gayle Ancient of Days

Ancient of Days is a transitional album for Charles Gayle. Since Gayle started recording in the early '90s, many have called him the second coming of Albert Ayler. His last album, Kingdom Come, saw him unite with the equally intense William Parker and Ayler alumnus Sunny Murray. It was a furious blast that was Gayle's best record to date. Ancient of Days sees Gayle re-evaluating his technique, with melodic and modal ideas creeping into his playing. He's still far from straight bop, but there's more than one walking bass line to this disc. Unfortunately, his songwriting skills using these methods - which are new to him but common to others - need work. Most songs are longer than ten minutes, and meander where they used to relentlessly charge forward. He still has a huge tone and wails like crazy on tenor, but his band mates this time around do not propel him further. He is the dominant voice throughout on Ancient of Days; there are very few other solos or examples of collective playing. Gayle desperately needs a counterpoint to his inventions, and only occasionally finds it in pianist Hank Johnson, Juini Booth and Michael Wimberly turn in average, reactionary contributions throughout when considerably more should be expected of them. It's cool that Gayle wants to broaden his stylistic range, but Ancient of Days is only the beginning of a new chapter for him. (Knitting Factory)