One of several recordings to emerge from the January 1988 sessions with this quartet, Deep River doesn't quite measure up to the best of them (Spirituals), but is a good, solid date with Murray in typically fine form. If he meanders a bit on ballads like "Home," he makes up for it on the more burning numbers. The perpetually undersung Dave Burrell and the late bassist Fred Hopkins are always a joy to hear and shine throughout this album. Hopkins' solo introduction to "Mbizo," a tune dedicated to another great, late bassist, Johnny Dyani, reminds one of how much was lost with his early passing. Burrell provides some rollicking work at the begin of the group's cover of Coltrane's "Mr. P.C.," bringing to it an approach entirely different from McCoy Tyner's and going a long way to showing how adaptable compositions like this can be. Murray follows with some rampaging tenor, and Peterson sums things up with a remarkably on-the-theme drum solo that contributes to making this cut the highlight of the record. The album closes with the traditional spiritual "Deep River," introduced with some collective free playing before settling into the lovely theme, Murray leading the way with his warm, smooth bass clarinet, satisfyingly closing out this tasty set. Essential? Perhaps not, but of a piece with his generally strong work from the late '80s and a perfectly enjoyable listen.
Deep River Review
by Brian Olewnick