In the company of musicians like Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler, Sunny Murray invented free jazz drumming. In return, he was long ignored by the American listening public. Though he now lives in Paris, Murray still makes occasional visits to the States. We Are Not At The Opera
documents one of these visits. Throughout this hour-long summer '98 session with Sabir Mateen at the Unitarian Meeting House in Amherst, Murray shows he hasn't lost the touch. Though polyrhythm and texture form the foundation of most of his work, he still manages to power through some vividly colorful expressionist moments.
In contrast with his recorded work from the '60s, Murray does not shy away from holding down a tight groove on this record. Outspoken reedsman Sabir Mateen,a fine complement for Murray, moves fluidly between plaintive melodies and fiery saxophone sandblasting. Mateen at his fiercest blows with the relentless emotional intensity of Charles Gayle, the self-appointed saxophone preacher of the apocalypse. Despite his age, Murray has no trouble abetting this level of energy. Alongside Murray's recent records with Gayle, We Are Not At The Opera is a delicious morsel helping celebrate Murray's return to recording the ecstatic music he helped invent 40 years ago.
Personnel: Sunny Murray, drums; Sabir Mateen, alto & tenor saxophones, flute.