Charles Gayle - Repent (1992), 8/10

This monumental exploration of truly inspired spiritual free jazz and noise came from a musician in his fifties with more than thirty years of experience experimenting with improvisation and live performance, resulting in nothing short of a musical display of fireworks and true pandemonium, screams and all. The first titular piece gives a chaotic and manic introduction to Gayle’s approach to free jazz that exhibits completely unhinged expressions. All members of the band are uninhibited by structure or composition of any kind, truly relying on instinctual inspiration and what they would call the spiritual hand. Gayle himself gives us the most impactful contributions of the recording, truly achieving his goal to “knock down the walls…blow my guts out!” and his screeching cries and melodic whispers accomplish even more than this simple desire for destruction. David Pleasant’s drums are a highlight throughout the entire recording, hearkening back to some of the best improvisational performances in percussion during the last few decades, as is Cherry’s masochistic manipulation of the bass. The tremendous and mighty second piece “Jesus Christ and Scripture” ventures beyond the chaos and energy of the first to explore some ideas looming at the end of the first twenty-four minutes, especially the final eight minutes of this piece are deeply moving and tell an initially sad but eventually hopeful story. The virtuosity can be heard just as clearly as the metaphysical aspirations of the band, making Repent a giant of a record within the free jazz scene and beyond.