A passionate prolific player with lots to say and the vocabulary to preach, David Murray finds an aggregation capable of burning through the music with him in the Gwo-Ka Masters. Anchored by the ambi-rhythmic drummer Hamid Drake and Gwo-Ka drummer Klod Klavue, this thirteen piece ensemble rolls like an 18 wheeler downhill. Using hyper funk rhythms of Afro-Cuban music, Murray keeps his big, rough sound light on its feet for the fast dance through hurtling beats. Herve Samba and Christian Lavlso slice and dice those beats with clear percolating chords, rubberizing the rhythm. Tightly layered horn sections call and respond, exercising their own take on tweaking the beat. Add Pharoah Sanders on several tracks and you have a second tenor player as ferocious as Murray blasting the groove.
The title track starts at a run with a brief vocal trio, followed by the horns in a cascading arrangement that blows itself out for Murray's entrance. Drake keeps it neat as Murray provides all the ornamentation needed. He unfurls a spiraling ribbon of melody that even veers outside. After a restatement of theme, Pharoah says hello. His solo rides the rhythm, his textured tone easily moving through an expanded saxophone range. A beautiful guitar solo lovingly explores the melody of "O'Leonso," then the ensemble adopts a driving rhythm foundation for Murray's statement.
Murray plays a jocular bass clarinet solo on the slower "Ouagadougou." But after the languid intro, the gears change and the tempo quickens. A quicksilver guitar solo shimmers over the gathering momentum. Sanders and Murray take individual turns before several measures of ecstatic duo improv. As the rhythm section smolders, Sanders takes an unpredictable break on "La Jwa." After a palette cleansing guitar interlude, Murray returns roaming with the reed, a second guitar solo brings the coda.
Slightly offbeat and heavily counted, "Djolla Feeling" features blistering guitar followed by Murray low and seductive, quickly segueing to rampant. The vocalists turn rappers for "Go to Jazz," the results vaguely recalling M-Base. Soloists on trumpet and soprano sax. Again on bass clarinet, Murray navigates the dense riff that is "Ovwa," vocalists and percussionists weaving the beat.
From the opening beat to the climaxing ultra funk of the "Gwotet Radio Edit," Murray and company keep their attention on intensity with this scalding entry to his crowded catalogue.
Personnel: David Murray, tenor sax; Pharoah Sanders, tenor sax; Leonardo Alarcon, trombone; Angel Ballester Veliz, alto sax and flute; Alexander Brown, trumpet; Eipido Chappotin Delgado, trumpet; Hamid Drake, drums; Klod Klavue, gwo ka drums and vocals; Christian Lavlso; Moises Marquez Leyva, baritone saxophone; Herve Samba, guitar; Jaribu Shahid, bass; Carlos Sonduy Dimet, trumpet.