David Murray: Black Saint
Murray is justifiably proud of the group, which is arguably as good as any he's ever led. On the record the band features the all-star rhythm team of bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Andrew Cyrille, with his regular pianist Lafayette Gilchrist, for whom he has high praise. "Lafayette is growing on his own accordhe's just bringing a fresh, new kind of thing to what I'm doing, the saxophonist opines. "He kind of grew up inside of my music and so that's helpful, when you see a cat that takes your music and just studies the hell out of it...It's just beautiful to see a cat that would take so much consideration of my music that he would kind of grow inside of it himself and so I'm very pleased to have him... He's absorbed some of the techniques that John Hicks used to play, some of the things that Don Pullen used to play; he studied every pianist that played with me, so that's an opportunity right there to have...a lot of stuff going on from the past in the band, and we're trying to go forward as well.
"Plus it's just fresh to see a young cat coming out of Monk," Murray continues. "You know there are not a lot of young cats that really study Monk these days. I mean they might play his tunes, but I mean just the way he played. So that's interesting to me to have that.
2007 appearances with the band have also featured longtime collaborator Jaribu Shahid on bass. "He's definitely my right hand guy, I can always count on him, Murray says. "He's quite a different player from Fred [Hopkins] and Ray [Drummond], you know. They don't really play the same kind of way, but I really appreciate what Jaribu is adding to the band. I mean his tempo is excellent. He just holds the band in a very nice format because we need that center sometimes in the band.
Of late, Mark Johnson, who Murray has dubbed "Rhythm Man," has been holding down the drum chair often occupied by Cyrille, Hamid Drake and Stephen McCraven. The leader proclaims, "So as long as I've got a great drummer in the band, I don't particularly care who it is; as long as they've got their own beat. You know because every drummer's got their own beat.
Murray is looking forward to returning to New York with the Black Saint Quartet for their upcoming 2008 appearance as part of the NYC Winter Jazzfest at the Knitting Factory. "I just came off of a five-week tour with the quartet, he says, "so I mean, I personally am at the top of my game right now. My chops are way up there, you know. I'm practicing and I'm hitting every night, so you can't do better than that.
A resident of Paris for the past ten years, he's happy to return to the city that was his American home base for nearly half his life, but the expat says he doesn't get homesick. "I come so often to New York that I don't really miss it. It sounds crazy, but the only thing I really miss not living in New York is watching the Yankees, Mets and Knicks and having access to the Giants. You know, other than that I pretty much come through all the time, so I don't really miss anything... The fact is that I'm touring more than I've ever toured in my life right now, so I really feel more like a citizen of the world.
David Murray Black Saint Quartet, Sacred Ground (Justin Time, 2006)
David Murray, Circles Live in Cracow (Not Two, 2003)
David Murray, Special Quartet (DIW-Columbia, 1990)
World Saxophone Quartet, Dances and Ballads (Nonesuch, 1987)
David Murray Octet, Ming (Black Saint, 1980)
David Murray, Flowers for Albert (India Navigation, 1976)