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Booking Jazzmen

Eddie Gale
Inner Peace: Fire-blowing San Jose legend Eddie Gale has explored a quieter side on his recent albums.

Blowing amid the shelves at Barnes & Noble with Darrel Stanley and Eddie Gale

By Nicky Baxter

CONCERTS IN BOOK emporiums are certainly far from novel affairs, but usually they're strictly for highbrows. Barnes & Noble on Stevens Creek in San Jose is gradually changing that image by serving up everything from unplugged rock (Rebecca's Mask) to country blues (Elmer Lee Thomas) to improvisational music. This Saturday (Feb. 1), the store outdoes itself, showcasing two of the area's foremost jazzmen: Darrel Stanley and Eddie Gale.

Stanley performed at the bookstore just a couple of weeks ago with his quartet. Gone was the timidity of prior performances; Stanley's guitar playing bristled with the confidence of a man who has discovered a new lease on life. In turn, the audience exhilarated in the band's low-burning funk repertoire, which included a mix of standards and originals.

Generous bandleader that he is, Stanley allowed considerable room for his associates to stretch out. Drummer Terrell Otis' spare, cut-to-the-chase fills were especially tasty.

Eddie Gale has long been dubbed San Jose's ambassador of jazz; his recent ventures, however, suggest that the title is insufficient: ambassador of peace might be more fitting. The Brooklyn-born trumpet player has traveled a long way--both musically and philosophically. The Eddie Gale of 1997 is not the same fire-blowing jazz radical who performed with the late emissary to Kemetian/Egyptian cosmos Sun Ra and would later recorded culturally aware albums like Ghetto Music.

After the stormy stuff of the past, the longtime San Jose inhabitant has taken to creating calmer sounds. His albums since the beginning of this decade have reflected his increasing interest in making his own brand of New Age music.

Quiet Times & Inner Peace (1990) was the first of such efforts. Compositions such as "Gentle Feelings" and "Water Cave" gave definite indications of where Gale was headed. Which is not to suggest that he was a social ostrich; since the 1970s, he has worked hard to educate people about the improvisational-music tradition. To that end, he founded the "We're Jaazzed!" youth and adult jazz festival. Though short-lived, the festivals were not without impact.

If nothing else, Gale is consistent; his most recent release, Water Cave Blue (Investments in Nature), takes its name from a Quiet Times & Inner Peace tune. For New Age fans, there is plenty to get peaced-out about--the songlike opening track evokes nature before the buzz saw of capitalism.

On this and other tracks, the spirit and sound of Miles Davis' cool, blue, muted trumpet is evident in Gale's playing. Executing carefully etched arabesques, often swathed in echo, Gale aims to soothe and is often successful. "Georgette's in My Dreams," for instance, is indeed dreamlike, with Gale's flugelhorn wafting languidly over a diaphanous cushion of keyboards.

Water Cave Blue is not the sort of music you want to slap on at a Saturday-night fish fry; rather, these are late-night grooves--or, alternately, early-morning sound serenity.

Darrel Stanley Eddie Gale appear Saturday (Feb. 1) at 3pm at Barnes & Noble, 3600 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose. (408/984-3495)

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From the January 30-February 5, 1997 issue of Metro

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