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David Murray was invited to perform at New York’s Winter Jazzfest this January in an early celebration of his 60th birthday. He did three sets over two nights, each with a different ensemble, all playing the city for the first time. No surprise there — the saxophonist has recorded nearly 100 albums as a leader, with dozens of bands. He lives ahead of expectations.
A 20-year-old Murray took jazz by surprise in 1975, when New York was still reeling from the death of John Coltrane. The penetrating certainty and harmonic sparseness of Coltrane’s late work left people awed. Murray made his
Murray’s WJF run reached a climax with his Infinity Quartet, featuring longtime bassist Jaribu Shahid, pianist Orrin Evans and drummer Nasheet Waits alongside Saul Williams at Le Poisson Rouge. Murray first met Williams at Amiri Baraka’s funeral in early 2014, where the firebrand poet premiered his jazz-inflected elegy, “Rottweiler Choir,” and they began collaborating. Evocative of both Gil Scott-Heron’s Pieces of a Man and Baraka’s work with the New York Art Quartet, the set was a combustible riposte to the recent wave of political turmoil, as Murray parried Williams’ verbal rallying cry. “I’m a candle! Chop my neck a million
Jazz Night In America filmed two of those sets at the Minetta Lane Theatre as part of Winter Jazzfest in early 2015. A four-man clarinet summit — featuring Murray with fellow reedmen Hamiet Bluiett, David Krakauer and Don Byron — echoes the project he played in with clarinetist John Carter in the 1980s. And a new collaboration with Geri Allen (piano) and Terri Lyne Carrington (drums) found the three improvising openly around loose themes.
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Winter Jazz Festival in New York City will feature a David Murray Revue including a Clarinet Summit where Murray will be joined by Don Byron, Hamiet Bluiett, and David Krakauer; Murray’s Infinity Quartet with special guest Saul Williams; and a trio project with Geri Allen and Terri Lyne Carrington. Continue reading