Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

332

Murley/Braid Quartet: Mnemosyne's March

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz festivals typically trade on the cachet of well-known acts to attract audiences, but the best performances often come from lesser-knowns. At the 2004 Ottawa International Jazz Festival, one of the undisputed highlights was a performance by the nascent Murley/Braid Quartet.

No stranger to Canadian audiences, saxophonist Mike Murley has accrued numerous awards for work as both sideman and leader over his twenty year-plus career. David Braid is about a decade younger, emerging seemingly overnight. Classically trained and relatively new to jazz, he's already established a strong reputation as a performer and writer. Expectations were high when the pair decided to team with bassist Jim Vivian, a veteran of the Canadian scene best known for his work with Toronto's Shuffle Demons, and drummer Ian Froman—an ex-Ottawan now living in New York and a member, alongside Murley, of Canada's most successful fusion group, Metalwood. But they're clearly borne out by this recorded debut.

The Ottawa date was only the group's second night together, following one rehearsal and a gig the night before. Still, they played with energy, versatility and ability, navigating Murley and Braid's often complex compositions and delivering on their significant promise. If the chemistry was potent in Ottawa, it's positively telepathic on Mnemosyne's March, recorded live at Toronto's Montreal Bistro seven months later.

The quartet defies the misconception that a dividing line exists between American and European aesthetics. The gospel leaning of Braid's "Say a Silent Prayer has a quasi-Jarrett feel that brings to mind his 1970s European Quartet, but it also swings like nobody's business—no small feat considering Braid's penchant for shifting bar lines. Froman's fluid approach recalls Jon Christensen but is equally informed by Jack DeJohnette and Tony Williams. Braid's "Dream Recording swings harder still, showcasing Murley's ability to balance sheer power with a deeper sense of purpose. Vivian, an unshakable anchor for the majority of the set, proves an equally lyrical player, his evocative arco work defining the theme to Braid's title track.

At the Ottawa show Froman commented on how challenging the charts were, an observation born out by Murley's knotty theme for "Sheep Walking. The fifteen minute-long rubato tone poem "Cascade finds Murley giving everyone considerable room to stretch, then seamlessly segues into "Rundle, a 7/4 modal burner that pays clear homage to Coltrane and features Murley's most intense solo of the set.

For a group that convenes only occasionally, the interplay is remarkable in its understatement. Rather than aiming for overbearingly explicit exclamation marks, the quartet's subtle interaction is all about risk; but while the music often dangles at the edge of the precipice, the quartet never loses its balance. With two strong composers and a collective simpatico marked by a safety net of trust, but never a complacent feeling of playing it safe, Mnemosyne's March isn't just great Canadian jazz. It's great jazz, period, from a world-class band that will hopefully continue and explore just where and how far this relatively early achievement might lead.

Visit Mike Murley and David Braid on the web.


Track Listing: Say a Silent Prayer; Dream Recording; Mnemosyne's March; Sheep Walking; Cascade; Rundle; I Wish I Knew.

Personnel: Mike Murley: tenor and soprano saxophones; David Braid: piano; Jim Vivian: bass; Ian Froman: drums.

Title: Mnemosyne's March | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Cornerstone Records Inc.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read The Influencing Machine CD/LP/Track Review The Influencing Machine
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read "Heaven" CD/LP/Track Review Heaven
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 19, 2017
Read "Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman" CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read "Generations" CD/LP/Track Review Generations
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Find the Way" CD/LP/Track Review Find the Way
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 26, 2017
Read "Luz de Luna" CD/LP/Track Review Luz de Luna
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis" CD/LP/Track Review Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2017