Friday, July 06, 2007

Joint Happening

Joint Happening
Mushroom with Eddie Gale
Hyena Records

“‘Inner peace to you.’ That’s how Eddie Gale typically ends a conversation. He doesn’t say it just to sound cool, which he does. He really means it.” That’s how I started a profile of Gale in the Spring 2001 issue of Signal to Noise magazine (which coincidently, also featured Mushroom). Six years later Eddie Gale is still sounding cool and doing his own thing, this time with the psych-jam band Mushroom on Joint Happening.

Happening is scoring reasonably apt comparisons to the electric Miles Davis of Jack Johnson vintage. You could argue Gale is the closest legitimate trumpet successor to Davis. Despite not attaining the same rarified commercial success, Gale has shown a similar talent for reinvention, playing out with Cecil Taylor, leading the spiritually charged Ghetto Music ensemble for Blue Note in the late 1960’s, and playing with hip-hop groups like The Coup in recent years. Now he strides into Mushroom’s grooves like a trumpet king.

He makes his regal entrance on the opener “Peace” around 2:25, after Mushroom establishes a mood of cosmic foreboding. Their accompaniment frames Gale’s trumpet improvisations beautifully, with Matt Henry Cunitz’s conga picking up the groove midway through.

As extended grooves, the tunes largely flow into other, like “I Don’t Need to Fight, to Prove I’m Right, I Don’t Need to be Forgiven,” which features a darker vibe and the guitar of Tim Plowman. There is more nervous energy on Happening than much of the electric Miles which may have inspired it to an extent. “Selling Oakland by the Pound” is a skitterish blend of keyboard, marimba, and eventually trumpet that creates an unsettling effect.

Many of the tunes however, also reflect Gale’s spiritual concerns, as evident from song titles like “Peace,” “Our Love,” and “The Spirit.” “Our Love” goes through particularly interesting evolutions, starting with a funky Hammond groove, going into an intense guitar solo, and ending with a contemplative statement from Gale on trumpet.

It’s always great to hear Eddie Gale doing his thing. Clearly Mushroom agree, as they sound perfectly in-synch together on Happening, another fascinating release in their diverse discographies.