SubCulture, Grand Opening
The engendered theater of jazz: The David Murray Infinity Quartet featuring Macy Gray The David Murray
Infinity Quartet featuring Macy Gray is a fascinating combination. This was proven at a performance on June 19, part of a two-night stint at SubCulture in Manhattan. That night, they played with Donna Hudson on piano, Jaribu Shahid... on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. On the new record, Be My Monster Love, Marc Cary appeared on piano, with guest vocals by Gregory Porter. Mr. Gregory Porter was not present at the performance on June 19 and 20 at SubCulture in Manhattan. However, this quartet featuring Ms. Gray is now embarking on an impressive world tour and headlining a slew of festivals. The band performed a few instrumental tunes just to get warmed up at about 7:30 p.m. David Murray blew his geometrical, West Coast saxophone style. Macy Gray took to the bandstand shortly thereafter. David Murray announced the tune on which Macy first filled the room with her voice as a song for the seminal African American sociologist and philosopher "W.E.B Du Bois."
Macy Gray's appearance is shocking, delightful. A tall, engendered presence gives to the evening a theatrical glow: the voice: an eternal specter of Billie Holiday. The highlight of the evening was the new album's title track on which Macy really shows her chops (the lyrics were written by Ishmael Reed):
Be my monster, love /We don't have to wait for/ No full moon Let your hair grow long Let your fingernails become Claws/ You're my wolf man/ I'm your Cat Woman/ I don't care about your flaws Make me/ Scratch and scream/ And hiss and purr Rip off my blanket Cover me with your fur Cover me with your fur... Here, the rhythm switches between hardwalking swing and a B section with bossatinged funk.
Mr. Murray's playing reflects a frankly compulsive mastery of scales. When listening to him, you can expect to revive the ghost of California jazz, acoustic music that did not die with fusion.
"French Kiss for Valerie" is a composition off the new record that Mr. Murray wrote for his wife. Performed in 6/3, the tune hints at AfroCuban rhythms and Mr. Murray's solo is especially saxaphonistic. David Murray's solos throughout the evening were fantastic. To not catch every grace note, squeal and squaller would be missing some of the magic that has placed David Murray in the catalog of jazz legends.
The tune "Related to a Psycopath" was the first song of the evening to feature the lovely Macy Gracy on vocals. Not a long way from the soul smash, "I Try," Macy's vocal habits can only be described as "naughty." "Green Satin Dress" featured Don Hudson calling up some electronic tricks on synthesizer, for instance the "toy piano" patch evokes an heirloom in an old attic. This is a crawling, suspicious waltz in which Mr. Murray can either alter the melody on solos, complementing the vocals or blow chromatic commentary over Macy's leadership.