David Murray 4tet & Strings: Waltz Again (2006)
Saxophonist David Murray is arguably the most recorded jazz musician in history. In the last ten years alone he has released over thirty albums. During the course of his thirty-year career, Murray has played bebop, Latin jazz, swing, world music and free jazz, performing in almost every configuration imaginablesolo, duo, trio, quartet, quintet, octet and big band.
Waltz Again is a strings project with a Murray twist: a quartet with familiar associates (Hamid Drake, Jaribu Shahid, Lafayette Gilchrist) plus a ten-piece string section handpicked from the Havana Philharmonic. Waltz Again begins with "Pushkin Suite #1," divided into seven parts and running a total of 26 minutes in length, shifting from being a near-classical piece to straight-ahead jazz and back again. This ambitious undertaking seldom lets up in its high energy.
With its intricate changes, funky backbeat and spirited solos from bassist Shahid and pianist Gilchrist, "Dark Secret" would not be out of place as a Yellowjackets tune. It is the most satisfying track on the recording. Things come down a few notches in intensity on "Steps," a lovely ballad. Overall this is a dark and intensely moody project with one long, energetic solo after another from Murray. Indeed, Waltz Again can become a quickly wearying experience if swallowed whole. Its beauty is best appreciated when listened to with a breather between each track.
Track Listing: Pushkin Suite #1; Waltz Again; Dark Secret; Steps; Sparkle.
Personnel: David Murray: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Jaribu Shahid: bass; Hamid Drakedrums; Lafayette Gilchrist: piano.