Eddie Gale, a spiritually minded jazz trumpeter and educator who performed with the avant-garde giants Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra, and who saw the music he made with his own bands as a conduit for communicating the richness of African-American life, died on July 10 at his home in Northern California. He was 78.
The cause was prostate cancer, his wife, Georgette Gale, said.
On his recordings as a leader — including two significant albums for the Blue Note label in the late 1960s, “Eddie Gale’s Ghetto Music” and “Black Rhythm Happening” — Mr. Gale drew on the Black church, his Cub Scout marching band, astrology, street-corner funk and African polyrhythms to concoct a densely layered urban stew.
“It’s his whole life,” his younger sister Joann Stevens, who sang and played guitar with him, said in an interview. “He felt that these are the things that make the quote, ‘ghetto,’ alive and culturally enriching. So these are the things he wanted to celebrate and focus on, even if other people don’t.”
Sometimes the music got loud; sometimes it got deeply, deeply funky. And always it was spiritual.
“It didn’t sound like anything that came out before or after,” the trumpeter and bandleader Steven Bernstein said. “Total outlier. It’s 6/8 vamps with two bass players and two drummers, unison melodies in the horns, and then incredible choirs that are bringing blocks of music.”