DAVID MURRAY POWER QUARTET
Like a kiss that never
Justin Time Just
It is gratifying to hear that David Murray can still produce a decent
straight-ahead jazz album that is not tied into a concept or a tribute. Recent
years have seen his work as leader and with the World Saxophone Quartet
dominated by both. Tributes to Julius Hemphill, Don Pullen, Miles
Davis, The Grateful Dead and John Coltrane immediately spring to mind, as
do several albums with African singers and percussionists. All of those had
their merits, and some were downright excellent (notably, the Coltrane tribute
with his octet), but this set has a refreshing simplicity to it.
This Power Quartet (with John Hicks on piano, Ray Drummond on bass and Andrew
Cyrille on drums) is aptly named. Murrays own playing on tenor sax
often attracts such adjectives as muscular and beefy
to describe the full, rich tone he achieves and also the sheer stamina he
displays. However, powerful is the most apt description. Hicks,
Drummond and Cyrille are a superb team throughout. They are showcased as
a trio for much of Mo Bass (For The Bulldog), an atmospheric
and adventurous piece.
The title track has a highly danceable Latin rhythm most reminiscent of Sonny
Rollins. Long term Murray fans may compare it to Mings Samba.
Suki Suki Now, another Murray original that also features on
the new WSQ album in a different version, is also rhythmically compelling.
On both, Murray is happy to occasionally break out of the confines of the
rhythm, playing the freer soaring lines that are so typical of him. As ever,
his playing straddles traditions, owing as much to Ben Webster as to Albert
Rubens Theme Song is highly reminiscent of the old Motown
song, He Was Really Saying Something. As Murray served his teenage
apprenticeship in a soul band, it is not surprising that he can still do
a passable imitation of King Curtis. The closing track, Monks
Lets Cool One, has Murray on bass clarinet, his more deliberate
playing providing an effective contrast to his sax.
Although only in his mid-40s, Murray already has a vast discography, big
enough to rival those of Braxton, Lacy and Konitz. But with some of his best
work released on the Japanese label DIW, it has been difficult (or expensive!)
to obtain. So it is a pleasure to welcome a Murray album that is both easily
obtainable and musically rewarding.