Selection: Heart to Heart
David Murray (ts), John Hicks (p), Ray Drummond (b), Ralph Peterson Junior (d) recorded March 1, 1986 at Charlie’s Tap, Boston.
Once again flirting with the free-tendency, but nowhere near as “free” as I
feared expected. Browsing through a local record store, the name David Murray was one I recalled from an artist recommendation on one of the posts here at LJC (was that you, Andy? I read the posts), and Black Saint was a label I came across while expanding the Guide to Record Labels, the twin to Soulnote. A quick spin on the record store turntable confirmed – yes, this is interesting, and I like it, despite its recent 1986 provenance:
Wiki: Murray was initially influenced by free jazz musicians such as Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp. He gradually evolved a more diverse style in his playing and compositions. Murray set himself apart from most tenor players of his generation by not taking John Coltrane as his model, choosing instead to incorporate elements of mainstream players Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Paul Gonsalves into his mature style.
Murray featured in the Seventies New York “Loft Scene” and was founder of the World Saxophone Quartet – Julius Hemphill (as), Oliver Lake (as), David Murray (ts), Hamiet Bluiett (bs) – and has been recording prolifically since 1975. Despite a conscious decision to eschew Coltrane, he was awarded a Grammy for his Blues For Coltrane tribute album. To this ear uneducated in free jazz, Murray plays very much in the vein of Archie Shepp in his more mellow moments, embellishing the expected with unexpected melodic lines, darting off in musical tangents and harmonic dissonances, whilst not losing sight of the groove and melody in hand. Or perhaps this is an untypical Murray recording, others will be a better judge. A recent review of David Murray in Berlin did not hit the right notes for me:
“… Joe Zawinul-influenced synth-driven world-funk… backbeat powered bass vamps, ghostly electric guitar, and a poetry recital….”
Sounds ghastly. I already have all the Weather Report albums I need (one), special effects guitar and world funk? His latest single Be My Monster Love is described as “soul infused” and features R&B singer Macy Gray. No thanks, this is where I get off. We’ve gone way past my stop. Fast backwards, perhaps his early work is more my metier.
An excellent site dedicated to David Murray is to be found on a fellow WordPress blog Wall of Sound, with links to many other sites dedicated to the “new jazz” of the Seventies through to the Nineties and beyond, such as inconstant sol ( a filesharer). This is not my territory, but when you put a toe in different water, sometimes you make many surprising finds, and I concede I should get to know it better, especially as its price tag is more affordable, though the digital nature of later recordings still presents something of a barrier, and I am not going to walk the Way of the Evil Silver Disk.
Its got attitude and it’s got a bar code. Hailing from the far side of the eighties, and the other end of the artistic spectrum of Francis Wolff, a cover portrait with face obscured; liner notes in gold text reversed out of black, the cover sets out it’s membership of new music in the post-bop and avant-garde tradition. All power to the Italian Black Saint label, purveyors of more-free jazz.
Vinyl: Black Saint BSR 0105 (Italy)
Nice vinyl pressing, in keeping with its stable-mate Soulnote, and light years away from the vinyl-destroying tone arms (and their owners) of the Fifties and Sixties. The label design is quite quirky, but very striking.
Source: One of London’s suburban record stores which continue to provide a useful source of vintage vinyl, mostly reissues as are found everywhere, but modestly priced and often something of interest.
More to be discovered