Sunny Murray was one of the early avant-garde's most inventive and influential drummers, doing a great deal to establish the role of the drums in free improvisation. Although Murray could swing as hard as anyone, he often abandoned the drums' traditional timekeeping role. Instead of playing a steady beat, he might punctuate and color behind the soloist's lines, or engage in dialogues with the rest of the ensemble, commenting and conversing with an open-eared sense of give and take. Born James Marcellus Arthur Murray in Idabel, Oklahoma in 1936, Sunny began drumming at age nine and moved to New York in 1956. At first, he played with traditional artists like Red Allen and Willie "The Lion" Smith, but he soon branched out into more adventurous territory with Jackie McLean and Ted Curson. His big break, however, came when he joined ...
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