Vintage Track: Billy Gault “Mode For Trane”
On March 25, UK imprint Jazzman Records released the fourth installment of its Spiritual Jazz compilation series. Volume 4 focuses on performances of American artists while playing abroad. It’s a much more accessible batch of tunes than the meditative, modal and religious jazz that comprised Volume 3. The latest release features an eclectic cast of heavy hitters ranging from Sun Ra to Albert Ayler to Sahib Shihab.
One highlight from the collection that caught my ear was “Mode for Trane” by pianist Billy Gault. The track was culled from Gault’s lone solo LP in 1975’s When Destiny Calls. The album was originally released on Denmark’s SteepleChase Records, before Inner City Records handled U.S. distribution the following year. Info on Gault beyond When Destiny Calls is limited, although I found several bits of info online that suggest he changed his name to Kalim Zarif and has enjoyed a long career both teaching and performing jazz.
Joe Lee Wilson and Ellen DeLeston handle the vocal work on “Mode for Trane.” Wilson’s career as a baritone, though rarely celebrated outside circles of jazz aficionados, is more widely known than Gault’s. Part African American and part Creek Native American, Wilson was born to farming parents in Bristow, OK before leaving home at 15 to pursue a career in music. Wilson is perhaps best known for his collaboration with saxophonist Archie Shepp on albums like Things Have Got to Change and A Touch of the Blues. Wilson’s storied career is covered brilliantly in a 2011 obituary from The Guardian. Listen to “Mode for Trane” below and grab your copy of Spiritual Jazz 4 from Jazzman Records.
Written by Rob Peoni