Artist Info

David Murray

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. He's adapted the expressive techniques of his former free jazz self (slurred glissandi, indefinite pitches, ambiguous rhythms, and altissimo flights) to his straight-ahead playing, with good results. He'll plow right through a composition like "'Round Midnight," hitting just enough roots, thirds, fifths, and sevenths to define the given harmonies, then filling every other available space with non-chord tones that may or may not resolve properly. In other words, he plays the wrong notes, in the same way that Eric Dolphy played the wrong notes. Like Dolphy, Murray makes it work by dint of an unwavering conviction. The sheer audacity of his concept, the passionate fury of his attack, and the spontaneity of his lines -- in other words, the manifest success of his aesthetic -- make questions of right and wrong irrelevant.