Alon Marcus

David Murray

226 posts in this topic

I've read lots of jazz books, but I grew tired of them, so I haven't been reading them over the last few years. I'd rather spend my limited free time listening to music than reading about it as a general rule.

If you don't really like David Murray's music, that's fine. For me, I first heard him about twenty years ago--have seen him live six times or so, and found all to be very positive experiences (with Jack DeJohnette Special Edition and leading his Octet with Julius Hemphill at the Caravan of Dreams, his Big Band at the Knitting Factory, and leading a quintet at the Iridium). He has one of the most distinctive tenor sounds in jazz today; I can recognize him instantly, and that's a quality missing from alot of players today that I value. Plus, he consistently puts out recordings that are interesting to me, in varying contexts--for example, his two recordings with Don Pullen, his recent two recordings with Jon Jang, his recent Village Vanguard recording, his duet with Randy Weston, his recordings with McCoy Tyner, the Octet recording Home, his recent series of world jazz recordings... He seems to keep pretty fast company, if he is really such a flawed musician.

He's most certainly not Wynton Marsalis-loke, who I gave up on many years ago after I realized that I never wanted to listen to his recordings more than once.

Edited by kh1958

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hey, there's no doubt, David can play. I just feel that somewhere along the line his own ego and money-lust got in the way. I do hear that he's a bit easier to deal with these days, though we haven't been in contact for some time -

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In light of my overreaction, now I am compelled to buy the book.

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is it ok to not like ralph peterson? i think that has been my problem with some of the murray i have heard-not being a fan of peterson's playing. to me, he doesn't really have a style of his own and most of the other drummers i can think of hearing murray with (blackwell, graves, smitty smith, ali, mccall) all have more of their own thing going on.

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is it ok to not like ralph peterson?

Yes!

He's not my cup of tea either. Most of the time he doesn't sound like he "for" the group.

Tony Williams could pull it off but not Peterson.

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well, I played one gig with Murray, at the Knitting Factory, which was recorded (Mental Strain at Dawn - a Louis Armstrong program) - the problem with Murray is that, I think, he has some good ideas but has learned to coast on those ideas relative to audience reaction - some of his writing, is, indeed. intriguing, but I'm with Larry on this. On the bandstand he was nothing exceptional, and I know 20 tenors who can take that "inside-outside" thing and make something MUCH more of it - Larry's essay on this in his recent book is outstanding and should be rquired reading.

Allen it's a bit off topic but I'll be glad to know who are these 20 tenors?

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The Wynton of the Avant Garde!

I have the same impression of Murray. Technically superior player, but his music just sounds fake to me.

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Dear friends, to make the discussion more fruitful - can you please elaborate why you like/don't like and give examples of albums or concerts.

I don't think that the comparison to Wynton is a good idea.

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I'm sorry.

I think "Ming" is total bore. Ego filled, non playing and boring. He dosn't strike me as one of the Master tenor saxophonists.

For the same time period, Billy Harper, Stubblefield and Gregory Herbert play rings artound him.

I guess the reason I made the Wynton comment is that Murray holds himself up as part of the patheon of the great tenor masters. He really hangs his hat up on that. Not for me!

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hmmm - you want 20 tenors who can play inside/outside better than Murray?

here goes - in no particular order:

Benny Wallace

Joe Lovano

Sam Rivers

Von Freeman

Fred Anderson

Ed Wilkerson

Wayne Shorter

Warne Marsh

John Coltrane

Ellery Eskelin

Ira Sullivan

Sonny Rollins

Allen Lowe (when he has time to practice)

Archie Shepp

well, that's 14 - there's more, but I'm a little tired right now -

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Interesting discussion here! I have two Murray discs (a Terrones one with Johnny Dyani and a japanese quartet standards disc, no idea what it's called) and I never felt like getting more, and I guess that has a lot to do with what several people here observed. There is much more facade than substance, it seems, and indeed, Allen's list is quite accurate!

Luca: thanks a lot for sharing these wonderful photos!

Seems like after Sangrey's post (and some other things I heard of recent Grimes) I'll be on the lookout for the Grimes Ayler CD, though!

ubu

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hmmm - you want 20 tenors who can play inside/outside better than Murray?

here goes - in no particular order:

Benny Wallace

Joe Lovano

Sam Rivers

Von Freeman

Fred Anderson

Ed Wilkerson

Wayne Shorter

Warne Marsh

John Coltrane

Ellery Eskelin

Ira Sullivan

Sonny Rollins

Allen Lowe (when he has time to practice)

Archie Shepp

well, that's 14 - there's more, but I'm a little tired right now -

Never really heard Marsh play "outside" unless you're counting those '49 sides with Tristano for Capitol. Ditto for Von Freeman. Also, if I were to put together such a list, I would include only those players who are still performing and thereby leave out such greats as Trane and Marsh. After all, we're discussing the output of a man who has put out a substantial amount of stuff since "only" the mid '70s. I just think that critiquing him alongside his living contemporaries is more constructive.

BTW, I love your inclusion of Bennie (not "Benny") Wallace, an unheralded wonderful player IMO.

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actually, EVERYTHING Freeman and Marsh play is "inside-outside" due to the nature of the harmonic choices they make -

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I recall being here before-the annual David Murray poll-tick like/dislike/indifferent.For the record I'm a fan,fond memories of scrabbling cash together when being carpet bombed with the DIW releases.

In reference to the original question,there isn't too much I dislike but would recommend the first few Octet sets,the January 88 ballad sessions for DIW,Shakill's and for a bit of fun the Grateful Dead tribute.Was well impressed with the Cuban big band project and last year's Gwotet(the best of the Creole projects)

One disaapointm,ent was the eponymous Music Revelation Ensemble disc on DIW-with Ulmer,Tacuma and Shannon Jackson-toothless production and sounded like the four of them were in separate studios.Saw the same line-up a year later and they kicked ass big time,wish I had a boot of it.

All comes down to personal taste at the end of the day,me,I don't care much for Tim Berne...

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why just living contemporaries? We're talking about a style that has existed for about 50 years, and a tradition that Murray is working in. I'm illustrating that this music has a "literature" that allows increased artistic choices - though I'm sure there are many contemporaries that I have not named -

well, than, let's add another: Marty Krystal

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why just living contemporaries? We're talking about a style that has existed for about 50 years, and a tradition that Murray is working in. I'm illustrating that this music has a "literature" that allows increased artistic choices - though I'm sure there are many contemporaries that I have not named -

well, than, let's add another: Marty Krystal

I guess because if we're going to include a lot of dead giants, well then it's very easy to say that when it comes to this or that, I or you prefer Coltrane, Marsh, etc. Everyone suffers when you mention players like that, no matter what point the discussion is focusing on. In terms of today's purchasing dollar and our attempts to support the music as a living, breathing source of pleasure, I for one prefer comparative discussions that focus on current players to involve their contemporaries. And I mean by contemporaries only those players who are still active, regardless of age and experience.

(edited to replace Rollins with Marsh as one of the "dead giants" as I egregiously and unforgivably listed Rollins instead).

Edited by MartyJazz

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What do you think about his Latin big band - "Now is another time"?

Those who have listened, what do you think about his arrangements and compositions?

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It's not a discography but I've been keeping track of Murray releases over the years. I have an Xcel list which runs to 185 items. For a copy pm me with your email address.

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Dear friends, to make the discussion more fruitful - can you please elaborate why you like/don't like and give examples of albums or concerts.

There are two things that this discussion thus far has motivated me to do. First, this morning I ordered Mr. Kart's book. I look forward to reading his "honest assessment" of Murray as well as the remainder of the book. I am sure it will be thought provoking.

Second, over the past day I have started to give some thought as to what it is about David Murray that appeals to me so much. Murray was one of those artists I gravitated to when I first started appreciating jazz in the late eighties. I think the initial attraction was his sound and intensity of his playing. He was one of the first saxophonists that I was exposed to during my investigation of the music who I felt had a truly distinctive sound on the instrument that was not overly derivative of Coltrane. As best I can remember, other than my early obsession with Coltrane the other tenor saxophonists I was exposed to early on were musicians like, Michael Brecker, Branford Marsalis and other "young lions" of the time who all sounded the same to me. I think if you consider who I had heard at the time, it should be easy to see why I thought Murray had a distinctive sound. I also appreciated the intensity and/or passion of Murray's playing. It is possible that Murray missed notes and/or could not get his rhythm together as it has been mentioned, but to be honest I would not have noticed. To my ears, the passion of his playing was something different than most of the academically trained musicians that I had been exposed to at that point.

I think I have already mentioned it, but I have also enjoyed Murray’s writing. No, he is not the best composer in jazz, or even my personal favorite, but I do think he has displayed a distinctive style that suits his abilities. Once again, I think the best format to hear his writing is the octet. It’s a combination of the instrumentation and the fact that his octet usually has featured exceptional musicians. The octet is my favorite among Murray’s groups.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to hear Murray live approximately ten times in a variety of groups (including a quartet date with John Hicks, Ray Drummond and Ed Blackwell on which Mr. Blackwell did not appear to have any problems with Murray's playing :) ). I left every Murray live performance feeling like he had given me everything he had at that time and that I had experienced something special. Also, when you include recordings as a leader, sideman and all the unissued live recordings I have obtained, I easily have over one hundred recordings featuring David Murray. I would be silly to try to pretend that everything I have heard is a five star recording, but IMO Mr. Murray has consistently made compelling music for the nearly twenty years I have been a fan.

Since my initial introduction to Mr. Murray I have been introduced to countless musicians who I think occupy a similar space as Murray – including several on Allen Lowe’s list. I don’t try to make qualitative distinctions between any of them and admittedly I am not the David Murray “fanatic” that I once was. Nonetheless I have heard nothing that has diminished my overall appreciation of Murray’s music and in fact everything I have heard has only enhanced my opinion that David Murray is one of the most compelling voices of his generation in the music.

I apologize for the somewhat long post and if it appears over the top. I was simply trying to answer the question of why I enjoy David Murray without an excessive amount of hyperbole.

Edited by relyles

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hmmm - you want 20 tenors who can play inside/outside better than Murray?

here goes - in no particular order:

.  .  .

Allen Lowe (when he has time to practice)

Hmmm. Pretty serious company you are putting Allen Lowe in. I am going to have to pull out my copies of At The Moment of Impact ... and New Tango '92 and give them a close listen. :) If you can recommend something else which you think is more representative of what Mr. Lowe can do when he has time to practice, I would be very interested to hear it.

Edited by relyles

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well, listen to some things on Woyzeck's Death (don't now if you can still get it) - New Tango, though that's primarily open improvising - well, give me a few months. I haven't played in about a year, but am getting my tenor repaired, as I have the itch again -

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How could a list of inside/outside tenor greats not include George Adams and Roland Kirk?

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Benny Wallace

Joe Lovano

Sam Rivers

Von Freeman

Fred Anderson

Ed Wilkerson

Wayne Shorter

Warne Marsh

John Coltrane

Ellery Eskelin

Ira Sullivan

Sonny Rollins

Allen Lowe (when he has time to practice)

Archie Shepp

Mary Krystal

well, the only dead guys in that list are Trane and Marsh, and though I'm not feeling that well, I'm still here. So that's a good start - I'd give you more, but I have a day job -

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well, listen to some things on Woyzeck's Death (don't now if you can still get it) - New Tango, though that's primarily open improvising - well, give me a few months. I haven't played in about a year, but am getting my tenor repaired, as I have the itch again -

Thanks. I have been looking. Woyzeck's Death may be hard to come by, but I will keep searching.

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