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Guelph Jazz Festival & Colloquium 2009

Kurt Gottschalk By

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While the record includes such well-known Hendrix hits as "If 6 Was 9," "Foxey Lady" and "The Wind Cries Mary," they stuck to more obscure arrangements of lesser known (or at least less recognizable) songs, playing long versions of "Hey Joe" and "Machine Gun" and encoring with "Little Wing," a beautiful, complex song given a wonderful lead by Bluiett on B-flat clarinet.

With the exception of a closing party, Murray and Graves played the closing set in what was a small triumph for Artistic Director Ajay Heble. The two have only played together once since their 1992 duo record, in a brief quartet set at a memorial for Don Pullen. And their record was called The Real Deal (DIW, 1991) for a reason. Few sax/drum duos manage the combination of energy and melody that they do. Murray has a way of finding brief melodies in the midst of hard note clusters, but here, especially on bass clarinet (which he didn't break out for the WSQ), he stretched out, creating long cadenzas within the spontaneity.

The two didn't rehearse before the show, but they didn't play pure improv either. They picked up themes from their record of 17 years ago and played a surprising Albert Ayler deconstruction in staggered phrases and tight intervals. It was a remarkable set, ramping up to the end, which only means they have to do it again.

And if music can, perhaps, bring social change, it might represent electoral politics as well: Murray met with enthusiastic applause introducing his "Yes We Can," dedicated to President Barack Obama.

Photo Credit

Hal Schuler

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