David Murray: Flowers for Albert (1976) India Navigation

IN-1026-David-Murray-Flowers-for-Albert-cover-1800-LJC Selection: Joanne’s Green Satin Dress



David Murray (tenor saxophone) Olu Dara (trumpet) Fred Hopkins (bass) Phillip Wilson (drums). Recorded in concert at Ladies’ Fort, NYC, June 26, 1976.


I confess I am not big on the ’70’s New York Loft scene. That’s not a criticism of it, that is a criticism of me.  Here in the UK a “loft” is somewhere you store  boxes of stuff you really ought to have thrown away but can’t bring yourself to, for sentimental reasons. My loft contains a couple of boxes of Californian New Age vinyl and a pair of snakeskin platform shoes. The shoes still fit, but sadly, New Age no longer does.

New York Loft jazz exemplified by Murray and Dara is a pungent continuation of the free and avant-garde jazz traditions let loose by Coltrane, Coleman and Ayler, among others. Its the sort of music I feel I ought to like, but my heart belongs to something more tuneful and rhythmic. However, I am always willing to give anything a go – push the envelope, see if I warm to it. When this Murray tribute to Albert Ayler popped up in a shop, I thought, give it a try, pourquoi pas?

The selection Joanne’s Green Satin Dress  has a catchy two horn theme and some nice playing from both Dara and Murray. It’s loose and spacious like the industrial space of its’ setting (Ladies Fort? Eh?) but with a certain backbone to the structure of the piece, making it the more accessible of the tracks. Others veer over the edge to my taste, I think I understand what they are trying to do, but I just don’t like it. However it’s not all about me, there are more than a few people who dig this stuff, Ayler, Loft Scene, and I think it deserves a posting, you can give your own viewpoint.

Vinyl: India Navigation IN-1026

An original pressing I assume, but we are past the era where these things are considered important. Still within the golden age of vinyl, it sounds good.

The more astute observer (pixel-peepers) may notice changes in label/runout photography, differentiating the run-out from the groove area, and better definition of the etchings. All part of the march of self-improvement – evidence-based forensics.

IN-1026-David-Murray-Flowers-for-Albert-labels-1800-LJC-2 IN-1026-David-Murray-Flowers-for-Albert-back-1800-LJC Collectors Corner

This search of the NY loft scene yielded not a lot of enjoyment for me.  I might consign the record to my own loft along side the New Age albums, next to the platform shoes. See if it improves with age. If you are passionate about the NY Loft Scene, you can always put me straight.


18 thoughts on “David Murray: Flowers for Albert (1976) India Navigation

  1. Well darn, since I forgot to add this to my post I’ll make a new one. The masters Lion and Wolff had a golden ear and this is why I feel most of the avant-garde and free jazz released on Blue Note is really fantastic.

  2. IMHO and sorry for the rather unpopular opinion, but too many free jazz albums just aren’t very good performances (including Murray’s debut). This was one of the numerous reasons that made me take a while to appreciate the subgenre.

    For me Albert Ayler is one of the true gifted “out” players while still playing old folk music.

  3. Well done for giving it a listen anyway. I’m increasingly of the opinion that the free end of the jazz spectrum is easier to appreciate as a live performance than it is via studio recordings (although I’m well aware that all we have of many of the great performers of the past are recorded works). Actually seeing the musicians adds an extra dimension.
    This reminds me that I must have my annual exposure to Coltrane’s Interstellar Space to see if I can finally appreciate it.

    • Interestingly, a friend of mine who has over the years organised free jazz gigs and even recorded one or two for commercial release (including Evan Parker) also says the same thing – he doesn’t listen to free jazz records, and thinks it best appreciated in performance.

      • Agree emphatically with you & downwithit. Though living in Sydney regrettably includes having to listen to this stuff on my hi fi – instead of concert hall or club 😦

  4. Au contraire, LJC: ‘loft jazz’ in the ’70’s was the only stuff that was interesting, new, happening.

    This disc by the young (18) David Murray has several classic compositions of his plus Phillip Wilson, a fantastically versatile drummer who played with incredible dynamics.

    Sure, I love BN of the ’50’s -> mid ’60’s, but I can’t listen to this stuff every night.

    Trivia Q: Which musician played with both the Art Ensemble of Chicago, & @ Woodstock in ’69?

  5. As your avatar may say LJC, nice. I have, for some reason never picked this one up despite it being a watershed record or at least a watermark record. Great recording quality.
    Murray doesn’t seem fully himself yet here. I do like Olu Dara’s playing though.
    He’s perhaps the most well-known of the quartet by dint of being rapper Nas’s dad and even appears on his son’s 90s hip-hop classic Illmatic which I do own but rarely listen to these days.
    I believe he mainly played cornet. So is he playing cornet here? Can anyone tell and does it matter?

  6. Murray’s first record as leader, I believe, and worth having on that score alone — but even more so for its fairly gentle beauty and homage to Ayler. Everyone always thinks that Ayler was a kind of scorched-earth saxophonist, but he wasn’t, at least not always, and his best records, like this one of Murray’s, are listening’ records, where the players are listening intently to each other. I think this is s lovely record — one of the best amongst Murray’s earliest records (although there’s lots of good 80s stuff on Black Saint/Soul Note), and simply one of his best, full stop.

    There is interesting coverage of Bob Cummins, who found the label here:



  7. if you don’t want it, LJC, i’ll take it! i love this stuff!

    such fire! such passion! the technical work takes a backseat to raw emotion. it’s great!

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