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David Murray And Class Struggle at The Village Vanguard

Mike Jurkovic By

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David Murray and Class Struggle
The Village Vanguard
New York, NY
June 22, 2018

Upon taking the Vanguard stage, Murray broke the night wide open with a hard, slippery solo that had his sextet Class Struggle—featuring the saxophonist's son guitarist Mingus Murray, brotherly rhythm section of bassist Rashaan Carter and drummer Russell Carter; trombonist Craig Harris who has been a foil/inspiration at Murray's side through the legendary Octets of yesteryear, and scene pacing pianist Lafayette Gilchrist—churning '70s style from the get go.

In fervent leaps and bounds, from his founding of the World Saxophone Quartet to adventures in poetry, the Grateful Dead and his aforementioned Octets, David Murray has pursued his wondrously curious muse and tonight's first set was a fiery sampling. Fusing his youthful bop abstractions (defying pitch, dark, deep growls) with his later day, smoother world music overtones, Murray often gave way to Harris' fevered, yet effortless glide while Gilchrist roamed wide and genre-less over the keys. Rashaan Carter was the crafty rhythmic engine, his intuitive, dare I say Mingus-like understanding of his instrument on glorious display.

Though half of the first set held to that distinct, almost predictable '70's vibe, when the sextet did break loose, well, glory freaking be! Murray's longer solos plumbed his depth and registers while drive-drenched guitarist Mingus and drummer Russell moved the entire organism into a rowdier, rock n roll vein. Jamming on, Murray and Harris rode the waves in tandem, building upon each others harmonics and telepathy. Gilchrist, as has become his young legend, sailed upon the maelstrom, his own captain serving the greater fleet. It was pure pleasure listening to the younger players shifting the landscape, trying to catch each other off guard but that wasn't happening and Murray and Harris were hip to the game, having been masterful instigators all their lives.

As if to gather the kids altogether for a family photo, Murray intro'd an atmospheric Brill Building ballad that fell into its pace like a lover into bed. The sax soaring gorgeously around the gliding rhythm; trilling and trailing his phrases as Rashaan broke into a round, imaginative solo. As the tune rode to a close, Murray, this time like a rogue emergency siren, blew like the only alpha male in the house, meeting with full applause. The guitar breaks in McClaughlin-esque, forcing the band to higher set-ending hijinks, including a Jarrett-like solo from Gilchrist that erupted into an Earth, Wind, and Fire type funk, culminating in a rapturous display of audience approval.

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