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Live Reviews

Sunny Murray Trio at The Vortex in London

By Published: September 25, 2009

Just a glance at his calendar would serve notice that Edwards star is in the ascendant, having accompanied two illustrious names, reedmen John Tchicai

John Tchicai
John Tchicai
1936 - 2012
and Evan Parker
Evan Parker
Evan Parker
sax, tenor
, during the previous seven days alone: testament to his ability to meld time-keeping to extended technique, all with a prodigious energy. Here he forcefully mediated between Murray and Bevan, providing the glue which bound their dual momentum together, as well as the peaks of intensity to stoke their fires.

As a featured soloist Edwards was explosive. At one point he bowed frantically with all four strings bunched tightly in his hand, while at the same time using the handle of the bow to rub strings to extract multiple voices. Similarly, a later passage found him fiercely bowing below the bridge while strumming and tapping strings on neck. But even at his most volcanic he was still perfectly attuned to what was going on around him, as when he conjured arco whale sounds from his bass to complement Bevan's unearthly shrieks, or when he cascaded continuous glissandos with both hands for an almost vocalized moan to embellish Murray's stream-of- consciousness tap.

When Bevan and Edwards quietened some fifty minutes in, Murray still continued on remorselessly, as if playing along with some unseen band only he could hear. Antoine Prum, Director of the recent documentary on Murray, Sunny's Time Now is on record as saying: "The European trio is certainly the best thing that's happened to him in the last few years, as that group has helped him recuperate a large part of the energy that characterized his earlier performances." In fact Murray was so energized that he finished the final ten minutes of the first set unaccompanied, wreathed with sweat, to the incredulity of Bevan who, after the tumultuous applause subsided, was moved to exclaim: "Before we played, Sunny was saying to me and John to wear him out!"

Indefatigable, at the start of the second set, Murray chatted to the audience. There had been a question-and-answer session programmed between sets the previous evening, but this discourse proved more of a monologue, offering a glimpse of the drummer as a likely lad. Eventually Murray seated himself behind his kit for a laid back start, with Bevan's ecstatic tenor cries and Edwards'slow deliberate plucks making for a slow burning groove which promised to be at least the equal of the first set. Sadly, just as Bevan was harnessing up to unleash his bass sax once more, I had to leave for the last train home, with the marvelous music still echoing round Gillett Square as I departed. However, the array of mics festooned around the stage suggested that the gig was being recorded, so with luck I might yet get to hear how the second set turned out, and those unable to make any of this two-day run might be able to confirm that it was indeed Sunny's time once more.

Photo Credit

John Sharpe

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