Because he has been so prolific, David Murray's greatest challenge has been facing up to his own recorded legacy. But recording with strings is as much a rite of passage for tenor players as recording "Body and Soul, and since Murray has already done that, strings were one of the few things left. Opening with the sprawling 26-minute "Pushkin Suite, the ambitious work is carried along by its various movements and virtuosic playing. Murray, pianist Lafayette Gilchrist, bassist Jaribu Shahid and drummer Hamid Drake complement the moods the strings evoke, giving voice to what Murray usually only implies while his imagination is overflowing through his horn. The four shorter pieces that follow effectively offer a complete second album: all are characteristically elegant, vigorous and spirited.
Listening to Assif Tsahar with the KJLA String Quartet is like watching an episode of TV's Medium: compositions are like repeatedly nightmarish and unnerving visions, and you spend the time in between (only a few seconds on the CD) trying to come to terms with it all before the next harrowing sensations hit. Tatsuya Nakatani's percussion clinks and rattles in the background, the violins have a sweetness that makes your teeth hurt, and Tsahar blows tenor with strength and authority. His bass clarinet is soothing by comparison, matching the tone of Audrey Chan's cello on the opening "Love Is. In between that and a closing version of "Solitude, Tsahar's uncompromising music is all about texture, atmospherics, the contrast between volume and silence, and challenging expectations.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Pushkin Suite #1; Waltz Again; Dark Secret; Steps; Sparkle.
Personnel: David Murray: tenor saxophone; Lafayette Gilchrist: piano; Jaribu Shahid: bass; Hamid Drake: drums; Reynier Guerrero, Ariel R. Sarduy Mendez, Carlos Guarez Moretin, Roman G. Serrano Gillinu, Omario A. Fernandez San Andreas: violin; Martha A. Saluado Vazquez, Robero Herroa Diaz: viola; Elis R. Ramos Martinez, Alexandro Rodriguez Tirado: cello; Reiner Elizarde Ruando: double bass; Roman Filiu O'Reilly: conductor.
Tracks: Love Is; Unmoving; Sand Between a Toe; The Epistemology of Loss; Of Amazing Most Now; Blue Sun; Falling; By and By; Solitude.
Personnel: Assif Tsahar: tenor sax, bass clarinet; Tatsuya Nakatani: Percussion; Katt Hernandez: violin; Jean Cook: violin; Ljova: viola; Audrey Chan: cello.
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