Saturday, September 15, 2007

DAVID MURRAY




David Murray
Scare Ground
Justin Time
***

David Murray has to hold the record for the most albums ever released by a jazz artist. The saxophonist has 223 albums in his discography, which doesn’t include the albums he made with the World Saxophone Quartet, or his work as a sideman. Given the mileage the guys has racked up you’d think he’s dangerously close to running out of gas.

"Scared Ground" is Murray’s new addition to his massive discography, and perhaps his leanest album to date. It’s only seven tracks deep. And there’re no indications that creatively Murray is running near empty.

Stellar cuts such "Transitions, "Pierce City and Believe In Love" show that Murray has mellowed out considerably. That’s not to suggest he can’t still cook when he wants to.

Murray cooks on "Family Reunion" while doing a bunch of circus tricks on his horn, hitting notes from every conceivable angle. "The Prophet of Doom," a blue written by novelist and poet Ishmael Reed and sung with a lot of confidence and sass by vocalist Cassandra Wilson is the best of the seven tunes.

I’ve never been a big fan of the vocalist. She mumbles too much, making it seem as if she bashful or lack confidence. I've always had a difficulty hearing the lyrics she sang. That's not an issue on this albums. She enunciates clearly, and saunters through the songs like an experienced blues singer.

There are several outstanding solos by pianist Lafayette Gilchrist. The pianist style is akin to the late Don Pullen. (Gilchrist will be major force when he finds his own voice.)

Murray has served up a handful of duds out of 223 recordings I’m sure, but Scared Ground isn’t one of them. Murray is nowhere near burning out. He has simply learned how to pace himself.
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