- Scott Yanow
jazz tenor saxophonist, was born in Buffalo, New York. His parents’ names and occupations are not recorded. His first instrument was the piano, which he started playing when he was nine. His first exposure to music was hearing religious music in gospel churches. Gayle had regular jobs working for Western Electric and Bethlehem Steel before he took up the tenor sax in the late 1950s when he was 19.
Gayle worked early on as a pianist, playing straight-ahead jazz, bop, and show tunes. But on tenor, once he learned the instrument, he gravitated much more toward free expression, which received mixed reactions from audiences. He felt validated when the free-jazz movement in New York City gained steam in the mid-1960s. He had opportunities to jam with Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders and he almost had an opportunity to record for the ESP label before the chance fell through ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.