Tenor sax titan David Murray has established himself as one of the foremost modern voices in contemporary jazz. From the World Saxophone Quartet, to performing the music of the Grateful Dead, to his many and varied contexts as a leader, Murray has both preserved and extended the tradition on his instrument. But those listeners who have him pegged as an avant-garde player will be very surprised with JUG-A-LUG.
This album is something of a tribute to the soul-jazz sound of the late 1960s and the early '70s, as performed by Rusty Bryant, Gene "Jug" Ammons, Eddie Harris, and Junior Mance, particularly on the title track, where Murray's tenor is joyous and mercurial, loaded with a big, mellow, breathy sound similar to that of Gene Ammons. "Ornette" starts off innocently enough, but midway through Murray starts pumping enough juice to shake you up; he retains a powerful focus, and the band maintains a tight and tasty groove throughout. "The Desegregation of Our Children" features some truly sweet, rich ballad playing. If you're seeking David Murray the firebrand tenor, this isn't the place. But if you want some easygoing, funky jazz that retains passion and creativity, JUG-A-LUG is a good bet.