Dave Burrell

In Concert

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This set by longtime collaborators Dave Burrell and David Murray (playing exclusively tenor sax here) was recorded at the Victoriaville Festival in Quebec in 1991. The live sound is good, the performances exceptional (even by their standards), and the compositions chosen are perfect in a duet setting. But none of these things are what make this recording so special. What is truly astonishing is the almost telepathic understanding that exists between these two men every time they play. This pair has worked together off and on since the late '70s and recorded together fairly often since the early '80s. The set opens with Burrell's "Penaluu Peter," a sprightly, almost Broadway-like number comprised of major chords and ragtime rhythms. Murray is at his most lyrical here, soloing gleefully, shooting through the structure of the tune and swinging like mad. Murray's "Hope Scope," which seemingly moves through Pharoah Sanders' entire phraseology, is actually from the early days of the World Saxophone Quartet. It's free and it is mostly Murray, but Burrell displays a painterly ability to take Murray's shimmering-then-bleating lines and fold them out into a tune. Murray's "Ballad for the Black Man" is in complete contrast, gorgeous in every sense of the word. Murray and Burrell are both giants, even if Burrell is not quite so well-known; their influence is profound and wide-reaching. Hearing them play together so nakedly emotional in front of a discerning audience, with everything at stake, is a treat. But to hear the deference with which they treat each other while simultaneously striving to reach new ground and standards of individual excellence is a blessing. If anything, this duet recording reveals two musicians at the very peak of their compositional, improvising, and listening skills.

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