“Mushroom tossed the analog weirdness of Füxa, and the jagged experimentalism of Can into a dark, smoking concoction alongside acid-fried Funkadelic, Jack Johnson-style Miles Davis and even some groove-addled Medeski, Martin & Wood. The result was some of the most instantly accessible outrock around, exploratory, up and infectious. It's rich and trippy party music for ass and head.”
"The vibe is so 1969-inner peace-astrological-cosmic-love-futurist-spiritual that when I was done listening, I just lay back knowing everything was everything and the creator has a master plan. The music is full of fun and optimism, and after surfing international news for an hour this morning, I'd give anything to be back in Brooklyn during the summer of '69, sitting in some park listening to Gale."
- San Francisco Bay Guardian
The San Francisco-based psychedelic, post-jazz collective Mushroom has been consistently releasing albums of fiercely experimental mind-altering music for upwards of ten years now. Maverick trumpeter Eddie Gale has shared stages with Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra and Elvin Jones, while having recorded the seminal Blue Note albums Black Rhythm Happening and Ghetto Music. Despite the generations that separate them, Eddie Gale is, in fact, part of the lineage from which Mushroom emerges; that being based in the pursuit of the artistic spirit which seeks higher elevation through music. As is the case, that search has led Mushroom and Eddie Gale's paths to cross, documenting their collaboration on the forthcoming HYENA Records' release, Joint Happening.
"When Mushroom began, we were influenced by a time when the term 'progressive' did not mean 'prog rock,' it meant everything from The Beatles to Traffic to the Doors to Soft Machine and King Crimson," states Mushroom's drummer and founder Pat Thomas. "After we heard the reissues of Eddie's 1960's Blue Note LPs that blended jazz with gospel, folk and soul, like a hybrid of the Edwin Hawkins Singers and Sun Ra, we knew that we had to meet this kindred spirit who was not afraid to blend a diverse set of styles and let them stew and percolate."
When Eddie Gale's trumpet first enters at the two-and-a-half-minute mark of Joint Happening's opening track entitled "Peace," one could easily recall In A Silent Way-era Miles. The instinct to compare is natural, but upon deeper listening, Eddie Gale's soul cry reveals magic completely unto itself. Mushroom, almost amoeba-like, swell and contract with a swirling, hypnotic force. On the 18-minute plus centerpiece "I Was Torn Down At The Dance Place--Shaved Head At The Organ," a heightened level of human interconnected electricity sustains even at the most hushed moments of the music. Layers of textured sound emerge and vanish, sometimes sympathetic to Gale's mournful wail, other times subtly steering him in new directions. Throughout, a foundation is provided for some of the most ghostly and haunted improvisations ever to be heard from the trumpeter. When Mushroom's tribal rhythms hit their apex, the results might be baptized "freak jazz."
"When I first started playing with Mushroom, I realized fast that they are not scared to go many different ways with their music and that opens up the creative process to a realm of possibilities," explains Eddie Gale. "From the first time we started playing shows together, we had a good time, so we played a whole bunch of places in the Bay area and decided to keep it all going. And now we're looking for some more good times to come about."
Summer 2007 marks Mushroom's 10th anniversary. The last decade has found the collective, led by founding member and drummer Pat Thomas, in a variety of highly-coveted situations. They've released a string of critically acclaimed projects including the 12-inch single "The Reeperbahn" and albums like Analog Hi-Fi Surprise, Foxy Music (featuring trumpeter Jon Birdsong), Mad Dogs and San Franciscans (with Gary Floyd), Glazed Popems and Yesterday I Saw You Kissing Tiny Flowers (with Alison Faith Levy). In addition, Mushroom has recorded two albums supporting Daevid Allen of Gong and toured as his backing band. They've received the call to serve as a band for Kevin Ayers of Soft Machine and Peter Brown (the key lyricist for Cream during the 1960s), while sharing bills with Yes, Faust, Porcupine Tree, Gris Gris and The Bad Plus among others. The San Francisco Bay Guardian said of Mushroom's history and sound: "Think of the German art rock band Can, the electric Herbie Hancock, James Blood Ulmer, The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East and just the idea of the Fillmore East."
Eddie Gale is living, breathing jazz royalty. His inspired trumpet playing graced Cecil Taylor's Unit Structures, Larry Young's Of Peace And Love and various albums with Sun Ra's Arkestra, including Secrets of the Sun and On Jupiter. In 1968 and '69 as a bandleader, Gale recorded a pair of albums for Blue Note, Eddie Gale's Ghetto Music and Black Rhythm Happening, that were a groundbreaking blend of gospel vocals and folk-blues guitar along with freeform jazz horns & brass intensity. They remained mostly forgotten (except by crate diggers and soul-jazz hipsters) until late 2003 when Water Records/4 Men With Beards reissued them on CD and LP upon which they received praise from Down Beat, Jazz Times, San Francisco Bay Guardian and countless other publications. In recent years, Gale has kept current often playing live performances as a member of Oakland hip-hop band The Coup with Boots Riley. His trumpet was featured on the Living Life Lookin' Out CD by Bicasso (of the hip-hop collective Living Legends). In April 2004, Blue Note released an album titled Blue Note Revisited featuring remixes (done by well known DJ's and producers) of classic Blue Note tracks originally recorded by Herbie Hancock, Grant Green, Horace Silver, et al. The CD features a vintage Eddie Gale Blue Note track "Song Of Will" from Black Rhythm Happening remixed by Jazzanova. To this day, Gale continues to tour the world playing headline dates and festivals as a leader.