Certain albums are snapshots of their eras. They encapsulate the good with the bad and offer lucid apertures into the way things were. Eddie Gale cut two sessions for Blue Note at the close of the ’60s that are beautifully indicative of time and place. Jazz was a cauldron of fomenting styles – fusion, funk, free, R&B, Rock and African, all of these genres were feeding into the music with replenishing regularity, birthing hybrid forms at a pace that was sometimes dizzying to the record-buying public. Gale crafted an alchemical blend from the abundance of ingredients. The borrowings carried over beyond the music. Garbed in Monkish robes in a grassy field on the cover of his first record, his band took on the guise of musical ascetics.
Gale definitely had the skills to make his ambitious plans work. Former sideman gigs with Cecil Taylor (Conquistador) and Larry Young (Of Love and Peace) and an ongoing musical relationship with Sun Ra were the proving grounds in which his chops were honed. Ghetto Music finds him augmenting his customary trumpet with peripheral instruments like soprano recorder, Jamaican thumb piano and bird whistle. Gale claims all composer credits save the opening invocation “Rain,” which he shares with his younger sister Joann. The ensemble on hand pairs the tenor saxophone and flute of Russell Lyle with a bolstered rhythm section of two bassists and two drummers, plus the Noble Gale Singers, an 11-person choi