"Holy Siege on Intrigue" is one of the great titles, for an album or for a song, and it is too bad the epic performance that actually gets to own this title lacks either intrigue or anything holy about it. If there was a siege, it was probably on the Dutch coffee shops that are in close proximity to the venue where this 1977 gig was recorded, Amsterdam's famous jazz club the Bim Huis. If the photography on these album covers could be confirmed as having been taken at the gig itself, then the shots of both bassist Fred Hopkins and pianist Don Pullen could be offered up as solid proof that these players were reeking of reefer when this concert took place. One musician who played Amsterdam during this time period was asked to comment on his involvement with the Bim Huis, but said he had to gracefully decline since he couldn't remember anything at all about the time period. He isn't a member of this group, but these performances seem the sort that might have been made in a haze, and then forgotten moments later. The only intrigue is that concerning this release, one of two volumes that came out from the performance. The Circle label packaged them in nearly identical covers, so these sides are sometimes confused with each other, and with other early Murray releases with the Low Class Conspiracy group.
The Murray of this era, in his early twenties and strutting with the prestige of being a
big man on the New York scene, might not be every listener's rolling paper full of tea. He blithers, he blathers, his tone sometimes sounds like somebody fished his horn out of the Oude Schans, the canal the club is located on. His chemistry with cornetist Butch Morris cannot be denied, and it is this player's movements that carry the day, making passages subtle and beckoning. The rhythm section is literally Goofus & Gallant. On bass, it is Fred Hopkins, whose zest is appreciated, although it leads nowhere. On drums, it is Stanley Crouch, who is simply crummy. His decision to quit playing drums is offered up as proof that he has done at least one good thing for the jazz community.