Sunny Murray Duo

Illuminators

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Too often, modern avant-garde albums degenerate into a sort of macho chest-thumping, more akin to furious typing than music. This album is an exception. Legendary drummer Sunny Murray and Charles Gayle, a tenorist most noted for Albert Ayler-ist explosions, here engage in an intense musical discussion. Gayle's piano playing is more akin to Powell or Monk than Cecil Taylor, and Murray's fills remind one that the drum can be a melodic instrument. Gayle's tenor solos, while never less than fierce, display a tenderness and human feeling perhaps missing on some of his other albums. While the mood can only be described as tense, these musicians pay careful attention to each other, not arguing so much as conversing. This music is dense but never crowded, and never ever directionless. Indeed, this is one of the few albums to emerge from the Knitting Factory scene to possess what most listeners would think of as songs. Not many instrumentalists could keep up with Murray's volcano. In Gayle, Murray has found a voice to rival the visceral power he once grappled with in Ayler's band. To both musicians' credit, each seems content to flex their muscle rather than knock the listener about the head and shoulders with it.

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