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Myra Melford Trio: Alive In The House Of Saints CD 2 (Hatology)

The much-anticipated 2nd volume in pianist Myra Melford's series of live performances, "Alive In The House Of Saints" with bassist Lindsey Horner and Reggie Nicholson, documenting sublimely beautiful and innovative playing with her trio of Lindsey Horner on bass and jaxx legend Reggie Nicholson on drums, performing live in two concerts in Germany in 1993. ... Click to View


Michael Adkins Quartet (w/ Russ Lossing / Larry Grenadier / Paul Motion): Flaneur (Hatology)

Much is made of Canadian saxophonist Michael Adkin's mid-tempo approach to jazz, heard here in his 3rd album, "Flaneur", which translates to "stroller" or "saunterer", an apt description of the lyrical, unhurried yet technically adept and sophisticated approach taken by his quartet with Russ Lossing on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass and Paul Motian on drums. ... Click to View


Samuel Blaser Trio (w/ Marc Ducret / Peter Bruun): Taktlos Zurich 2017 (Hatology)

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Markus Eichenberger / Daniel Studer: Suspended (Hatology)

Swiss compatriots with a long history of creative approaches to improvisation, double bassist Daniel Studer and clarinetist & bass clarinetist Markus Eichenberger join together for a studio album recorded at Radio Zurich in 2016, an album of furtive tension and suspense, each track named for a motion or subtle action that they carefully describe. ... Click to View


Daniel Carter / William Parker / Federico Ughi: The Dream [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

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Sabir Mateen (w/ Steve Swell / Matt Lavelle / Matthew Heyner / Michael Thompson): Prophecies Come To Pass [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

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Daniel Carter / Demian Richardson / Matthew Putman / David Moss / Federico Ughi: The Gowanus Recordings [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

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Daniel Carter / Federico Ughi: Extra Room [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

For more than 15 years multi-reedist, wind and trumpet player Daniel Carter and drummer Federico Ughi have collaborated in live performance and on record, here showing the results of their work in this duo album, the vinyl edition of their exceptional 2013 CD release that shows their melodic and technical sides, their jazz roots and their warm camaraderie. ... Click to View


Daniel Carter / Patrick Holmes / Matthew Putman / Hilliard Greene / Federico Ughi: Telepathic Alliances [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

Recording in Brooklyn, the quintet of Daniel Carter on alto, soprano & tenor saxophones, Patrick Holmes on clarinet, Matthew Putman on piano, Hilliard Greene on bass, and Federico Ughi on drums bring together players of a very different backgrounds who share a nearly telepathic level of communication through free improv, in an album graced with Carter's poetry. ... Click to View


Donald McKenzie II Sturge Anthony (w/ Nels Cline, Arnold Lee, Melvin Gibbs, David Hofstra, Vernon Reid, CX Kidtronik): Silenced [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (577)

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Federico Ughi (Ughi / Irwin / Snyder / Adu / Swanson): Heart Talk [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD] (577)

New York drummer Federico Ughi in a band with long time collaborator David Schnug on sax, Mike Irwin on trumpet, and Jeff Snyder on electronics, more of a creative jazz album than electric, with Leila Adu on vocals and Zach Swanson on bass on 2 tracks each; informed, intelligent and lyrical free improvisation from a tight-knit group of superb players. ... Click to View


Gabriele Meirano / Xu Fengxia: New Vintage Sessions [CDr + DOWNLOAD] (577)

A collaboration between the China based Italian pianist Gabriele Meirano and the Berlin based Chinese musician Xu Fengxia, a pioneer in combining Chinese music with improvisation, who first played together when Peter Brotzmann invited them to join him in a trio concert at the Shanghai Art Center in 2011, in a duo that fuses Far East sounds and the blues. ... Click to View


Grant Weston Calvin / Lucas Brode: Flying Kites [CD + DOWNLOAD] (577)

A powerful recording that features heavy, intricate and deep grooves from Philadelphia Grant Calvin Weston (Ornette Coleman's Prime Time) on drums, percussion and synths and Lucas Brode on guitars, effects and loops, a great album of creative improvisation that blends fusion-oriented playing balanced with modern sound collage and atmospheric moments. ... Click to View


Gabriele Meirano / Federico Ughi: Coordinate Orientali [CD + DOWNLOAD] (577)

A duo between two Italian born improvisers--New York based drummer and 577 Label leader Federico Ughi, and pianist Gabriele Meirano, active in the London jazz club scene for more than a decade--for an album of insightful free jazz in a dialog that shows both thoughtful and challenging moments in an open-minded, ultimately lyrical conversation between two like-minded players. ... Click to View


Nick Mazzarella / Tomeka Reid: Signaling (NESSA)

A fully and freely improvised duo from Chicago artists Nick Mazzarella on alto saxophone and Tomeka Reid on cello, using flowing and long lyrical lines with an unhurried sense of depth and richness even in the most complicated of runs, and playful inventiveness throughout, opening the album with a tribute to the duo work of Julius Hemphill and Abdul Wadud. ... Click to View


Amy Denio: The Big Embrace (Spoot)

Her 10th solo album is a welcome addition to composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Amy Denio's catalog, introducing 16 new songs, instrumental works, and general quirky superlative work that looks at life with a sharply optimistic eye and a joyful melody in her heart, taking delight in the banal and focusing criticism on the inane; wonderful! ... Click to View


David Myers Lee: Ether Music (Starkland)

Best known for his work under the name Arcane Device in the 80s and 90s, New York sound artist David Lee Myers carves a unique path in electronic and what he refers to as "feedback music", developing unique approaches and instruments to generate distinctive forms of electronic music, here in a 10 track album of stunningly beautiful and mysterious sound. ... Click to View


Sainct Laurens (Pierre-Yves Martel / Philippe Lauzier): Volume 2 [VINYL] (Etrons)

Using circular breathing and continuous sound, the Montreal duo of clarinetist and saxophonist Philippe Lauzier and Pierre-Yves Martel on viola da gamba, objects, feedback is a concentrative album of understated but definitive sound that develops with a profound level of precision and control, using suspense, tension, release and confidence in each other's unusual dialog. ... Click to View


Pierre Labbe : parlures et parjures (Malasartes)

Montreal multi-wind instrumentalist Pierre Labbe (Les Projectionnistes, L'Orkestre des Pas Perdus, Papa Boa) leads an insanely talented and quirky quartet with guitarist Bernard Falaise, drummer Pierre Tanguay, and narrator/storyteller Michel Faubert, creating a captivating album that transcends language in it's superb pacing, development, and artistry. ... Click to View


Cordame: Satie Variations (Malasartes)

Montreal's six-piece Cordame and composer Jean Felix Mailloux arrange and interprets 18th century composer Erik Satie's work "17 Variations" in celebration of his 150th birthday, adding a lilting swing and beautiful features allowing the orchestration of piano, harp, violin, cello, double bass, and percussion to improvise over these enduring melodies. ... Click to View


Hubert Zemler : Pupation of Dissonance (Bolt)

Hubert Zemler is a classically educated percussionist who works with symphony orchestras and improv, here performing 3 works, his own 4-part "Pupation of Dissonance", revealing an incredible knowledge and exultation in approaches to solo percussion, alongside Steve Reich's "Music for Pieces of Wood" and Per Norgard's study in drifting pulses and overlapping accents, "Waves". ... Click to View


Lisbon String Trio with Karoline Leblanc: Liames (Creative Sources)

One of five live collaborations with The Lisbon String Trio of violist Ernesto Rodrigues, cellist Miguel Mira, and bassist Alvaro Rosso, Quebec pianist Karoline Leblanc accompanying on the piano as the 4th string in this open-minded equation of slowly intersecting improvisation creating an unusual tapestry of sound that ebbs and flows in exceptional ways. ... Click to View


Autochthon: A (Creative Sources)

Autochthon refers to indigenous language or people, tied to their land; here the trio of Hartmut Osswald (reeds & things), Stefan Scheib (prepared double bass) and Wolfgang Schliemann (drums and objects) perform a native language of their own through improvisation in this interesting concert at Freejazz Festiva in, Saarbrucken, Germany in 2016. ... Click to View


Henry Cow: Vol. 4 & 5: Trondheim (Recommended Records)

Perhaps the most exceptional of the "road' albums from the Henry Cow Box Set, this 1976 Trondheim concert found the band missing bassist John Greaves and singer Dagmar Krauss, so instead of their set list they shut off the lights and gave the audience pure improvisation using EA and concrete approaches, heard in spectacular detail in Bob Drake' remaster. ... Click to View


Tandaapushi: Borromean Rings (JVTLANDT)

The second album from this Norwegian electric improvising power trio, using dark rhythmic grooves over which guitar, electric piano, amplified objects, no-input mixing board, and pianet emerge, creating hypnotic states that lead to exultant moments through sinuous melody, building and releasing intensity while maintaining a consistent gauzy undertone. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman (w/ Matthew Shipp / William Parker): The Art Of Perelman-Shipp Volume 1 Titan (Leo)

For more than 20 years Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and New York pianist Matthew Shipp have collaborated in a diverse set of projects that have led to more than 30 albums; this first volume of 6 albums brings the two together with frequent collaborator William Parker for a 6 part work, fittingly dedicated to Saturn's largest moon, "Titan". ... Click to View


Rob Mazurek: Chimeric Stoned Horn [CASSETTE + DOWNLOAD + 3D GLASSES] (Astral Spirits)

The 2nd part of Chicago trumpeter Rob Mazurek's Astral Spirits series that started with "Vortice of the Faun", Mazurek performing on piccolo trumpet, electronics, voice, and percussion in a detailed journey, released alongside Mazurek's art opening "Constellation Scores" at URDLA, the cover showing two 3-D prints and the package comes with glasses to view them. ... Click to View


Ab Baars & Terrie Ex: Shifting Sands (Terp Records)

Dutch saxophonist Ab Baars and guitarist Terrie Ex last recorded together in 2000 for their "Hef" album, reuniting in 2015 in Amsterdam for this well-rounded and exhilarating duo album, with Ex on electric guitar and Baars on tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet and shakuhachi, demonstrating both player's growth and continued joy in improvisation. ... Click to View


Ab Baars & Terrie Ex: Shifting Sands [VINYL] (Terp Records)

Dutch saxophonist Ab Baars and guitarist Terrie Ex last recorded together in 2000 for their "Hef" album, reuniting in 2015 in Amsterdam for this well-rounded and exhilarating duo album, with Ex on electric guitar and Baars on tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet and shakuhachi, demonstrating both player's growth and continued joy in improvisation. ... Click to View


Thanos Chrysakis : Equinox (Aural Terrains)

A remarkable album of electronic composition from sound experimenter and improviser Thanos Chrysakis, ten stunning compositions that explore a diverse set of tones across a broad spectrum of rich deep timbre and beautiful high frequency ringing, bell-tones at times taking the focus, at others providing a rotating basis for ethereal experiments; sophisticated and engaging! ... Click to View


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  Berlitz Jazz  

David Murray's Musical Travels


By Kurt Gottschalk 2003-12-15

David Murray
[Photo: Kurt Gottschalk]
David Murray took the stage at one of the most prestigious halls in New York City in mid October. The room itself was the beautiful new Zankel Hall, but this was nevertheless Carnegie Hall, which no matter what – even when pop brothers Hanson rent it – is a statement.

Less than a decade ago, Murray was living in Brooklyn, leading a big band Monday nights at the Knitting Factory and playing well lubricated gigs at the Village Vanguard and other spots around town. Despite being one of the best jazz horn players alive, he was another New York gigging musician.

But times change, and now his appearances in town, once or twice a year at best, are events. On this night, it was the 10 string players - in addition to his quartet of pianist Lafayette Gilchrist, bassist Jaribu Shahid and drummer Hamid Drake - that made the gig a concert proper. But even if this was Carnegie Hall and even if the string players were in concert black, the only orchestra Murray was taking cues from was the Love Unlimited. And while he didn't mention Philadelphia, he alluded to his other musical journeys of recent years.

"My quartet is the core of my explorations in Africa and the Carribean," he said from the stage. "We've traveled many miles together and we have many more miles to travel."

Murray's sculpting of events in part relies on a fonder heart borne of absence. But it's also – or would seem to be – by design, part of a master plan. When asked after a rehearsal for his Cuban Big Band's appearance at the Knitting Factory in January why he doesn't play in New York anymore, he said simply "That's by design."

It's also logistics. Murray left New York to live in France in 1995, where he and his wife Valerie Malot run 3D Family Productions. Since then, his performances in the town he called home for some 25 years haven't been gigs, they've been concerts: proper halls, thematic programming, and ticket prices to match. He brought a big band to Aaron Davis Hall in Harlem to play the music of Duke Ellington and appeared with his octet on Broadway for a performance with the dance troupe Urban Bushwomen.

And after three score and more cds leading dozens of musicians through his insightful arrangements of the jazz repertoire, Murray announced his retirement from jazz around the time he left New York, saying he would focus his efforts on musical traditions of other cultures. That and the move to Paris marked his fall from New York jazz darling, our own anti-Marsalis, to an outsider, someone whose name most often elicits responses like "Is that guy still around?" and "Oh yeah, what's he been up to?"

But for Murray, the musician's life in New York was getting worse, with fewer places to play and less opportunity to get paid.

"It seemed kind of a void, like things were going to change for the worse," he said. "The musicians didn't really want to stand up for their rights - the right to play anywhere they want to, to be creative. New York has always been the most creative city in the world. Conservatism had taken over jazz."

To sidestep that conservatism, Murray became a world traveler. In a tradition dating back to Dizzy Gillespie, Murray began looking to sounds from other cultures to feed his jazz. He's borrowed from the Carribean (Creole, released in 1998), Guadalupe (Yonn-De, from 2002) and now, Gillespie's beloved Cuba on the new Now is Another Time (released, like the others, on the Canadian label Justin Time).

"I'm not in everybody's faces," he said. "I'm in different people's faces all over the world. My mind is so far from New York at the moment. It's nice to be here, but I don't care to live here. I'm having the ball of my life right now."

The Cuban jazz he brought to the Knitting Factory shows that spirit. It's infectiously fun. But while the record was made with Cuban musicians (along with a few of his regular collaborators), the New York shows were a reunion of his old big band days, meaning pulling the musicians together and running charts with limited rehearsal time before the four-night stand.

Sixteen people, a baby grand, drums, congas, an upright bass, three trombones crossing over music stands, a five-strong sax section plus the bandleader and his unrivaled tenor were crowded onto the stage, the same stage where he held court on Monday nights for a good chunk of the '90s with his big band, often under the conduction of Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris. Rolls of sheet music fell from Murray's stand as he sang "New York, OK," then called "Sad Kind of Love."

"Ok, so y'all gotta groove with that," Murray said to the band. "It's weird, but ya gotta groove. You could even put it into a rock thing if you want - pah pah pah - but it's gotta lock. What's happening here is we're playing a ballad, and it's not going to get fast."

Much of his conducting during the rehearsal involved pointing heavenward with his right hand - always up, always more. Whatever project Murray takes on, he's unlikely to demand less than fire from is band. The band ran through some unmistakable Murray heads, vintage even, the pure sugar of albums like Shakill's Warrior, but with a Latin backbeat.

Whatever the influence, the Cuban here or the other "world music" projects he's taken on, the music swings. Taking the jazz out of David Murray would be something like taking the soft out of a pillow.

"It's jazz," he later affirmed. "It's my way of trying to seize something Latin inside what I'm doing.

"I started out studying the rhythms of the drums," he said. "I'm not a master of it. I just tried to study the masters." He cites Cuban pianist Monolito Simonet and flutist Jose Luis Cortez (who appears on the new record) as some of the sources to which he's been turning.

"It's not just me blowing my horn," he said. "You're going to countries, pacing out the project. I'm learning and I'm teaching. It takes me away from the mundaneness of what jazz has become. I think my life is a lot more exciting than a lot of jazz players."

Asked if he thinks he's fitting more into a world music than a jazz mold lately, he was careful not to commit.

"I haven't played at that many world music festivals, so I guess not," he said. "As long as I'm playing the jazz festivals, I guess what I'm doing is jazz. The European community is putting more white in it on the one side, I'm putting black in on the other. Me being an African, it's probably the truest thing I can do."

Still, he said, following the rhythms of the African diaspora isn't his sole ambition.

"I'm interested in China," he said. "There's so many curiosities in the world, for me to focus just on "I Got Rhythm" is kind of stupid."

But if his concert at the Knitting Factory was a cross pollinization, the Carnegie Hall night was pure jazz; if he was following in the tradition of Diz before, here he was touching on something that goes back to Charlie Parker with Strings. They played Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge," a piece dedicated to Curtis Mayfield and a second for John Coltrane, in which Murray went from 1958 to 1966 in the first two minutes, eclipsed Trane altogether from a moment, then landed squarely in the early Impulse! years and worked his way to 1968.

It's with no false modesty that he takes on Trane, and he can kick it with Prez and Bean, too. And when he skips across them all like a stone across the surface of a pond, that's pure Murray. He sells big ideas, and in the end you can't blame him for whatever it takes to get him where he's going. But ultimately it isn't big ideas he delivers. It's a variety of pastiches and facades, borrowings and labellings with the same saxophone he's been playing for decades. Which may sound like harsh criticism, but it isn't, for the simple reason that Murray is still about the best saxophonist in jazz. He's easily the most dextrous and soulful, and that's what he's paid for. He's not a conceptualist, and he's not even a great composer. Out of the scores of pieces he's composed, only a handful are really memorable (and perhaps only "Hope Scope" is truly great). But his huge tone and his rich soulfulness, not to mention his equally great bass clarinet playing, have been one of the pure treasures in jazz for three decades. The rest is just window dressing.

And somewhere, behind all the dedications and below the Ben Webster hat, Murray seems to know it.

"I believe in the past," he said. "You have to study the past to have a strong future. The history of jazz is so short, why not know everything?"



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Recent Selections @ Squidco:


Myra Melford Trio:
Alive In
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Saints CD 2
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Gabriele Meirano /
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Coordinate Orientali
[CD + DOWNLOAD]
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Daniel Carter /
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The Dream
[VINYL + DOWNLOAD]
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w/ Steve Swell /
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CX Kidtronik):
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