As Juan Rodriguez writes in the liner notes, this recording is unusual for David Murray in its lack of theme. Yet, as Rodriguez also correctly notes, the saxophonist's "full-bodied attack and tireless ideas" are themselves a sort of musical concept. In any case, fans of Murray will not be disappointed, even if the album does not break any new ground for the talented Murray. Not that it needs to do so. Murray distinguished himself in the 1970s and 1980s with his affinity for the avant-garde, but that commitment receded (or matured, depending on your perspective) to a more mainstream approach with time.
Tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist David Murray has led and recorded several bands during his career, and this group, dubbed the Black Saint Quartet is one of his most stable and long running. Supported by Lafayette Gilchrist on piano, Jaribu Shahid on bass and Hamid Drake on drums, the group achieves a rock solid modern jazz sound. Murray’s swooping and swaying saxophone is center stage on this live recording, his penchant for long kaleidoscopic solos is an acquired taste for some, but I find it very exciting.
Initially an inheritor of an abstract/expressionist improvising style originated in the '60s by such saxophonists as Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp, David Murray eventually evolved into something of a mainstream tenorist, playing standards with conventional rhythm sections. However, Murray's readings of the old chestnuts are vastly different from interpretations by bebop saxophonists of his generation. Murray's sound is deep, dark, and furry with a wide vibrato reminiscent of such swing-era tenorists as Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. And his approach to chord changes is unique. Although it's apparent that he's well-versed in harmony, Murray seldom adheres faithfully to the structure of a tune.
Saxophonist David Murray continues his cross genre initiatives on this undeniably exciting, 2003 release Now Is Another Time. With this effort, the artist enlists his longtime running mates, trumpeter Hugh Ragin and baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett to complement a huge cast of Cuban musicians. This large ensemble Latin jazz extravaganza packs a mighty blow, from beginning to end. Here, the band churns out radiant, multi-layered horn arrangements atop the Cuban masters' sweltering percussion grooves and the soloists' blaring exchanges.