David Murray Infinity Quartet: Be My Monster Love (2013)
Not only has he distinguished himself as an inventive leader of the avant-garde movement, he has become a veritable Renaissance man just based on the myriad of projects he has undertaken in the last few years. He composed and performed music for a tribute held in London for Emory Douglas, the legendary illustrator for The Black Panther publications, and he also collaborated with Afro-Cuban musicians to perform Nat "King" Cole's Spanish songs. That's in addition to Murray's activity with his working group, his big band, and The World Saxophone Quartet.
Just when you think Murray has run out of new career moves, he decides to hookup with R&B vocalist Macy Gray and take the show on the road. Some of the results of this musical venture can be heard on Be My Monster Love.
Here, Murray decided to record some vocal jazz using Gray and the up-and-coming, highly talented vocalist Gregory Porter. The bonus here, though, is Murray using the great American writer/poet (and Berkeley Homie Ishmael Reed to write the lyrics.
The results are phenomenal. On Gray's title track, Reed goes back to his Neo Hoo-Doo roots, penning such evocative lines such as, "We don't have to wait for no full moon, Let your hair grow long..." and even includes references to Hannibal and Stephen King. Porter's singing on "Army Of The Faithful," "About The Children," and "Hope is a Thing with Feathers" are more down to earth, as well as being more philosophical and reflective. One thing, though, people refer to Bill Withers when talking about Porter's style; it is also highly evocative of Andy Bey and Joe Lee Wilson, and thus well-suited to the modernistic motifs in Reed's lyrics.
On the instrumental side, Murray and company deliver the musical goods as expected. Those adherents of musical orthodoxy got it into their heads that Murray can't swing and yet again they're proven wrong. Murray and his group deliver the goods from start to finish. While Murray has a penchant for playing outside the scales, he is an old-school bopper. Veteran pianist Marc Cary displays the lightning delivery which distinguished him with Betty Carter and works out on the organ, holding church on "Army of the Faithful." Murray's old comrade, Detroiter Jaribu Shahid... and Nasheet Waits aptly bring up the rear. Another treat on this set is an all-too-rare appearance by the legendary Bobby Bradford on "The Graduate." On "Monster Love," Murray shows that he still has the power to surprise and amaze people.
Track Listing: French Kiss For Valerie; Be My Monster Love; Stressology; Army of the Faithful; Sorrow Song; About The Children; The Graduate; Hope Is A Thing With Feathers.
Personnel: David Murray: tenor saxophone; Marc Cary: piano,organ; Jaribu Shahid: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums; Bobby Bradford: cornet (7); Macy Gray: vocals; Gregory Porter: vocals.
Record Label: Motema Music
Style: Modern Jazz