David Murray

David Murray Quintet

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Combining David Murray and Ray Anderson on a front line in the '90s is a little bit like pairing Coleman Hawkins with Jack Teagarden in the '30s. Take the leading tenor saxophonist and trombonist of the day, throw them into a pot, and bring to a rapid boil; the resulting concoction is sure to be delicious. Stylistically, Murray and Anderson have a lot in common. Both men play fast and loose with the harmonies in a conventional jazz setting, tossing dissonances against every wall in the house just to see which will stick. Most do, thanks largely to the conviction with which both men play. You can't notate a Murray or Anderson solo; they're too full of growls, wheezes, and all manner of microtonal inflections. Try to write it down and you're doomed to fail, for this music is made to be heard, not analyzed -- an anomaly in the day of book-learned jazz improvisation. This is a fantastic, joyously played album. Murray and Anderson are powerful enough on their own; together, they're a juggernaut. Here they play straight-ahead, chord change/modal tunes, taking them "out" at the drop of a tritone. Most musicians with a free jazz background can't pull this off (most shouldn't even try). Murray and Anderson, on the other hand, know the routine well enough to make it their own. Their harmonic and rhythmic abstractions never compromise the integrity of a tune like "Stompin' at the Savoy"; they've got the form down, for one thing, and both swing as hard as the funkiest hard bopper. Anthony Davis is the perfect pianist for this band -- tasteful, well-grounded in tradition, but able to twist the harmonies into knots in order to accommodate Murray and Anderson. This is a first-rate album by as heavy an ad hoc group as you'll find anywhere.

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