One of the late Thomas Chapin's finest all-round recordings, this set starts out in somewhat startling fashion with screaming by Chapin and John Zorn on altos before settling down into a relatively straight-ahead jam. Zorn is on two selections (including one that includes poetry from Vernon Frazer) but otherwise this is a trio outing, showcasing Chapin on flute, baritone, soprano, and particularly alto while joined by bassist Mario Pavone and drummer Michael Sarin. While there are adventurous and free sections, Chapin also has the opportunity to play the blues (on Thelonious Monk's "Raise Four"), completely rework Duke Ellington's "Daydream" (which is given a Western motif by bassist Pavone), show off the influence of Eric Dolphy, and introduce such intriguing originals as "A Drunken Monkey" and "The Night Hog."
The eponymous first track on Testaments sets the tone for the album. The frenetic energy of his earlier albums (notably Repent, More Live, and Consecration) is still here, but the songs slowly build to the crescendos. "Parables" includes some of his best piano playing. But Gayle saves the best for the CD's last cut, "Jericho." The three-minute piece is breathtaking, as Gayle plays saxophone and piano simultaneously in front of a live audience, while drummer Michael Wimberly's banging cymbals are outdone by Gayle's crashing piano chords. Unfortunately, the first and last tracks on Testaments bookend not-so-memorable in-between material.
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