Share a special moment from Eddie's life.

Eddie Gale’s Spiritual Jazz

Shared by Valerie Mih on July 25, 2020
I first met Eddie Gale over 20 years ago, in the late 1990’s, through a moment of “random” synchronicity: as I was driving and listening to the jazz radio station KCSM, I heard an interview with Eddie talking about his Jazz Jam Workshop at the Black Dot in Oakland. It was open to all, on Monday nights. He talked about “jazz with a purpose,” and it struck a chord. I had been searching for a way to get involved again in jazz music, after having put it on the back burner for several years. So the next Monday night, I showed up at the Black Dot. With his characteristic welcoming nature, Eddie made me and the other new musicians (it was a drop-in jam session) feel right at home. Coming from a more stuffy, “academic”-oriented jazz background, Eddie’s jazz workshops were a revelation. He used an expansive, free jazz approach to help us all grow as expressive musicians. He showed us how to form a direct connection to the sounds and musicians present in the room.

Many musicians attended the workshop, which was always free of charge, supported by a California Arts Council grant. Friendships and collaborations sprouted in this supportive creative environment. For several glorious years, through this weekly meeting ground Eddie created a thriving jazz music scene in the Fruitvale district of Oakland alongside the Black Dot and Eastside Arts Alliance. His generosity of time and wisdom was phenomenal. He even organized music camping retreats, where 20+ musicians of all ages, along with their friends and partners, would drive to up Clear Lake and play music in nature, next to a babbling brook. While not playing music, we spent precious moments hearing stories, cooking at a the campsite and just enjoying the time together.

Years later, when I traveled with Eddie to New York for a series of performances, he reminisced about Sun Ra's regular Monday night gigs in the East Village. Back in his old stomping ground, as we walked through the neighborhoods, Eddie shared so many stories. He talked about Sun Ra's influence on his life and music, and how the consistency of performing together every week gave the music space to develop in new ways. I suddenly understood the underlying intention behind his weekly Monday night jam session at the Black Dot and its lineage to the free spiritual jazz of Sun Ra. I learned from Eddie that Sun Ra created a family of musicians, and Eddie embodied that ethos by creating a family of musicians and supporters wherever he went. His musical orbit was expansive, inclusive and supportive. Many times in my experiences with Eddie, I've been overwhelmed with gratitude to be in the orbit of such an expansive, warm and supportive mentor and human being. 

Another quality of Eddie's that I always admired is his optimistic outlook and vision. He was never cynical or curmudgeonly. He was about as anti-cynical as anyone could get. I remember one December, with all the onslaught of Christmas marketing and Christmas carols, he suddenly commented, "I don't care what anyone says, I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!" He never lost his love of gatherings, celebrations, holidays and everyday miracles. Not out of naivete, but rather out of a deep spiritual awareness of the miracle of our spiritual-human experience. Through songs like "It's a Holiday," "Children of Peace," and "Here Comes Another Miracle," he focuses our attention on the miraculousness of life and the world around us. 

Eddie hosted Annual Concerts for World Peace. When Eddie planned things, he planned BIG - leading an Inner Peace Orchestra of many musicians around the theme of Peace. At his side and organizing all the many details was his wife, Georgette. They were the dynamic duo bringing to fruition many charitable concerts for music education, peace education and musicians’ healthcare, alongside Eddie’s many supporters. Eddie would get the same gleam in his eye when he spoke of his next jazz performance (on many stages large and small), or of his next community-oriented initiative, like the children’s Peace Poetry contest he ran in association with the City of San Jose and the San Jose MLK Library. One of the most moving experiences was seeing the children reading their poems while their proud families watched during a large public gathering at the Library; it was priceless to see the excited expressions on the young poets' faces as they received public validation and appreciation of their work.

Nobody asked Eddie to do these things - these projects were self-initiated and came directly from his heart. Eddie was connected to an ever-flowing River of Creativity that expressed itself through many forms - music, song, education, community events - all with the same source in the Ultimate. Eddie's Spirit will continue to live on through all he touched in his overflowing and exceptionally beautiful life.

Transformative Moments

Shared by André Custodio on July 12, 2020
1998 was a pivotal moment in my pursuit of experimental music. I was able to host a short-lived series of exp music performances at Venue 9 in San Francisco where I connected with musicians worldwide, and happened to book guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil from New York who brought-in Eddie to perform with us. What an experience! Eddie's wisdom, attitude, and ability to take the music in a direction not expected was truly a revelation to me. I'll always remember that collaboration with fondness and good humor.

In addition to helping Eddie's co-conspirator Valerie Mih with her compositions ten years later, I also had the opportunity to play with Eddie at least two other times: One in collaboration with Val in playing her tunes in Berkeley and another in playing with Val and Eddie at a musician's benefit at the defunct Velma's in San Francisco.

Playing under the direction of Eddie was a distinct pleasure. His pointer-finger to signal a solo from each musician during a tune seemed to jar musicians. I welcomed that direction of Eddie; It signaled a sign of trust that I hope I was worthy of possessing. 

Your inner-light was bright, brother. You brought that inner-light to us, and it is a calling to all. Rest in eternal peace.

Inner Peace

Shared by Pamela Amerson on July 12, 2020
“Inner peace” was what he would encourage us to seek. Who knew that he was planting a seed? A belief that would drive the success in my adult life. You don’t always get a chance to tell people how much of an impact they make, you don’t always know how to. The love and support that I witnessed from my Aunt Georgette Gale and Uncle Eddie Gale made a big difference in my mental life. My uncle  was an inspiration to all of us find your inner peace and bless people with it. #InnerPeace 
Your Niece Pamek

To our Ambassador of Jazz

Shared by Naomi Stenson on July 12, 2020

  • We will enjoy your music forever

My Daddy is my G.O.A.T.

Shared by Chanel Wapner on July 12, 2020
My daddy’s life was very interesting. Surely he had borne great fruit, touching the lives of so many people. He always told us, we could do anything, be anybody, go anywhere. He set the flame for travel in me on FIRE!
People die of course, but I am reminded that death is an event, not a destination. It is the point at which we make the transition into another life. One that will forever last. Daddy is enjoying right now, a face -to-face with the God he loves. I won’t see my daddy for a while unless, of course my time on earth is shorter than I imagine. But when I do see him, I hope God will welcome into his peace with the same words I believe he has spoken to my daddy: 
Well done my good and faithful servant, well done.”

My daddy had special relationships with each of us. 

My dad and I shared the love of dogs beyond “normal” lol. We would talk forever about breeds, training, habits good, bad or indifferent forever. 

The first gift I gave my dad that forever impacted the second part of his life was introducing him to his Queen, Georgette.  The last gift was his mini schnauzer, Tek.  Lol 

Father God, 
I know the peace I now enjoy is just a foretaste of the peace I will enjoy, the peace that my daddy is enjoying now. Help me to remember that, as I seek you each moment for the rest of my days.  Amen

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