Alon Marcus

David Murray

226 posts in this topic

well, he's got other problems, but plays beautifully, and I have heard him do some convincing chord changes -

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Ten or more years ago I had the opportunity to see Murray's octet and Wynton's septet within the same week. Compared to Murray's crew, Wynton and his boys seemed tight-assed and smug, but compared to Wynton's group, Murray and co. seemed sloppy and almost unprofessional. Murray had most of the joy and the self-indulgence; Wynton's band had most of the craft and the inhibition.

These are the two extremes of the crappy jazz spectrum. Neither is to be taken as "the real thing".

Neo Cons both!

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Jazz is jazz, whether crappy or not. It's too easy to say it doesn't fit your ideals, so it isn't real jazz. Sure it's real jazz, and neither Murray nor Marsalis are without saving graces, even if not enough to make you like them at all. You have to give people the benefit of the doubt, after all.

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well, he's got other problems, but plays beautifully, and I have heard him do some convincing chord changes -

Yeah, Dewey's seemed to me like he's always had his changes together.

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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?

B00007MB80.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

So, what do you think about this album?

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I like the last two cuts on the CD quite a bit, the rest not so much.

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Interesting the different interpretations of an "inside/outside" player. I've never thought of Wayne Shorter as being "outside" at all, and Coltrane only in his later years. I wouldn't call Marsh "outside" either, though I think I can understand that more because of his extensive improvising.

One of my favorite inside/outsiders (at least as in how I consider that term) is the not-yet-mentioned Pharoah Sanders.

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Interesting the different interpretations of an "inside/outside" player. I've never thought of Wayne Shorter as being "outside" at all, and Coltrane only in his later years. I wouldn't call Marsh "outside" either, though I think I can understand that more because of his extensive improvising.

Re: Shorter--heard Schizophrenia? It's got a number of totally "out" tracks.

Marsh--there's a 15-minute free improv on Ne Plus Ultra

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Yeah, Shorter's new music with his quartet seems to really be walking that fine line between inside and outside.

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Maybe, but Schizophrenia is 1960s Shorter (on Blue Note)!

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Well I know that Shorter can play outside - I just don't generally consider him an outside guy on a regular basis. Just as I don't consider Marsh that way.

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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.

I was hesitant about bringing this thread back to life because I did not want to come across as an obsessed fan that is not open minded enough to be able to consider critical assessments of an artist that I admire. Nonetheless, since I have had an opportunity to read Larry Kart’s book, Jazz In Search Of Itself, I feel compelled to at least comment on the discussion in the book about David Murray that was referenced by Allen Lowe for the benefit of those who have not yet read the essay. First, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading the entire book. All of the pieces were informative, entertaining and filled with thought provoking analysis. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys reading jazz criticism.

With that said, in my opinion the comments in the book regarding David Murray have a somewhat limited relevance to a discussion of Murray’s career. As best I can tell, Murray is only discussed in an essay titled “The Death of Jazz”, which is dated 1985. In the piece Mr. Kart expresses concern regarding the growing trend of neoclassicism or revivalism in the music. Mr. Kart cites Wynton Marsalis and David Murray as key figures in the trend of neoclassicism. In Murray’s case Mr. Kart appears to be arguing that Murray sought to emulate a style of playing characterized by Albert Ayler without establishing his own identify. Interestingly, Mr. Kart borrows a phrase from another critic and states that Murray “fills roles rather than playing from self”.

Putting aside whether I agree that Murray was ever part of a trend toward neoclassicism, I think the limited relevance of the piece should be obvious. The essay was written in 1985 when Murray was approximately thirty years old. At the time Murray was not a “young lion”, but twenty years have passed since the essay was written and Murray’s music has evolved considerably since then. If anything, the essay is most useful as an assessment of Murray toward the beginning of his career when he had yet to completely internalize his initial influences and use them to develop his own voice. While based on what I have heard I believe that David Murray had a distinctive approach at the time the essay was written, in the time since then I firmly believe that although he is not an innovator, Murray has developed his own identity and he continues to search. Because of his initial impressions Larry Kart admittedly has not paid much attention to David Murray since the mid eighties. If Larry ever had the time and more importantly the interest in following up on where Murray has gone since then, I for one would be very eager to read an assessment on David Murray’s now thirty year career in the music.

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nice post, relyles

I find that most so-called jazz critics don't pay nearly enough attention to what is going on in today's world of jazz and improvisied music - save for the many that are writing for the less mainstream publications or on-line sites.

even people like Francis Davis and Gary Giddens are out of touch with much of what has and is transpiring in the world of jazz and related musics.

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I agree with you about Giddins, but that's certainly not true of Francis, who is very aware of recent happenings and covers virtually everything - as for Murray, my experience performing with him was well after he had fully developed his style, and I stand by what I said earlier, that I believe he has developed a certain approach and coasted on it. He's certainly a good muscian but there are many tenor players who can do what he does and can do it better -as for Larry's article, yes, it was 1985, but Murray's style certainly has not changed since than and Larry's criticisms hold up -

Edited by AllenLowe

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as for Larry's article, yes, it was 1985, but Murray's style certainly has not changed since than and Larry's criticisms hold up

I suppose this is the primary issue we disagree on.

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well, I recorded with Murray in 1992 - and I know the album that Larry refers to - and I do hear a consistency -

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Maybe I should clarify my thoughts somewhat. I might agree that the basic elements of Murray's style have not changed. However, I think that Murray's maturity as an artist over the duration of his career has added a significant amount of substance to his playing and for me at least, I hear a much more compelling saxophonist than what I have heard of earlier David Murray.

As an example, some of the discussions in this thread have motivated me to go back and listen to earlier Murray with some of the criticisms noted in mind. This morning, during my brief commute into work I listened to the first track (about 20 minutes) of Murray's 1978 recording, The London Concert. In Murray's solo on that track Murray's allegiance to Ayler is clear in his sound and I can also hear some of what Larry discusses regarding his playing with (or not exactly with) the rhythm section. As Murray has matured I think the Ayler influence is less prevalent in his playing and instead he has synthesized some of his other influences like Sonny Rollins and Ben Webster into something else.

I have not heard the recording that Allen Lowe and Murray play on together so I can't comment on that, but I am curious Allen whether you are disappointed with this recording on the whole?

Edited by relyles

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relyles -- Many thanks for your comments about the book. I know that members of this list are its core audience, but it always a kick to get a response from an individual whose identity I can gauge because of his previous comments on other things.

About Murray, I certainly can't claim comprehensive experience -- which given his body of work would be quite a claim -- but I do have the Steve Coleman Five Elements album "Curves of Life" (RCA) from 1995, where Murray can be heard as guest artist on two longish tracks, "Country Bama" and "I'm Burnin' Up." My impression was/is that this is still pretty much the same guy I'd heard on record and in person in the '80s.

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Larry and Allen,

Thanks for patiently indulging me. I was tempted to put together a CDR compilation of some stuff I think is far more representative of Murray's value and development than the last exposure each of you have had. I would be sincerely interested in whatever additional impressions you get from some of what I believe Murray's best work is, but I think I have taken this far enough already. Its been very interesting though.

By the way Allen I only had a chance to listen to Woyzeck's Death once while driving, but my initial impression was definately positive. I am looking forward to giving it a more attentive listen.

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thanks - David played well on the Knitting Factory recording we did (I played alto) but, honestly, there was nothing special about it - I've always had the impression that he has come up with certain ways to solo on certain types of tunes, and that's it - I certainly respect his musicianship, and everyone hears things differently, but I just find many other tenors to have more substance -

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One of the more interesting threads on this board!

While I can't say that I'm fond of albums like Special Quartet, I very much like Ming, and am waiting for an order that includes Home. I've heard only a few other things, but I guess, so far, I like Murray best in that octet formation. (Nothing wrong with that, as far as I can tell!)

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I was just listening to an interview David Murray gave in 1986 before a performance by his quartet (Hicks, Drummond and Blackwell) at the Montreal Jazz Festival. He actually mentioned a review by our own Mr. Kart of a Chicago performance. Murray said that Larry described the performance as "crap" and that the performance motivated him to play stronger the next day. No controversy here. I just thought it was an interesting footnote to this particular thread. Murray had nothing negative to say - he was just citing it as an example that sometimes an artist can't get too bothered by negative reviews from critics.

By the way, listening to the performance right now and it sounds pretty good to these ears. ;)

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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?

B00007MB80.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

So, what do you think about this album?

I picked this album up recently. Nothing earth-shattering but nice.

Guy

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I really like his playing on the Henry Grimes "Kerava Jazz Festival" album. He sounds quite energized.

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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 -

what kind of a great anybody includes himself in a list of great anybodies ?

well, the massively talented Edmundo proclaimed himself the greatest soccer player in the world ... but that guy is a fucking prick.

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