Sunday, April 19, 2009

Murray on the Bass Clarinet


Okay, I have become an apostle of David Murray. I think he deserves much greater recognition than he has received. Pardon me for playing these notes again, but his music combines the strengths of straight ahead jazz and avant garde more successfully than any other jazz man I have listened to. Every single line he plays has power and heart behind it, along with a poetic intelligence that can find the true path through any jungle.

I recently obtained his Ballads for Bass Clarinet. His crawling king snake horn is worth many times the purchase price on eMusic. Here is the eMusic review, by Kevin Whitehead:

Murray's obvious strengths as a tenor saxophonist tend to eclipse his gifts on bass clarinet, that big odd horn that looks a bit like an anorexic tenor, and sounds in the same range, but with a sweeter, woody tone. No one in jazz after Eric Dolphy has done as much with that axe as Murray, making especially welcome this showcase recorded in 1991, whose title says it all. For rhythmic emphasis, he'll occasionally pop notes loudly from his mouthpiece, a favorite gambit of 1920s novelty "gaspipe" clarinetists; the man has deep roots. The crack backing trio is pianist John Hicks, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Idris Muhammad.
I can't do better than that "anorexic tenor" and "sweeter, woody tone" bit. If you want to find where the song is hiding, Murray's bass clarinet will dig it up for you. Here is a sample:
David Murray/Chazz/Ballads for Bass Clarinet
Another recording I have been listening to is Murray with the Black Saint Quartet. This is epic jazz. Cassandra Wilson sings on two numbers, and the second of these is simply astonishing. This is music for Mount Olympus. But here is a sample, to get you to download the darned thing. It is all so very delicious.
David Murray Black Saint Quartet/Pierce City/Sacred Ground
Never think that because you're a God, every girl will put out for you.

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