David Murray Big Band @ Birdland, NYC, from Jan. 18 to 22


Sign in to view read count
From January 18 to 22 at 8.30pm and 11.00pm
Reservations: birdlandjazz.com or 212-581-3080

David Murray began writing for big band in 1978 in preparation for a concert at the Public Theatre in New York. At this time Loft Jazz was in full swing and David had surfaced as one of the progenitors of the new phenomena that had captured the downtown music scene.The compositions were a more complex and extended version of many trio and quartet songs that we heard in the lofts but with more textures and counter melodies and harmony.

Mr.Murray engaged most of the leading players of that time like Julius Hemphill, John Carter, James Newton, Henry Threadgill, Fred Hopkins, Steve McCall, Joe Bowie, Bobby Bradford, Baikida Carrol, Pat Patrick and the legendary Jackie Byard. Amiri Baraka was the guest poet, Irene Datcher the vocalist and it was conducted by Lawrence Butch Morris. The concert was a success and inspired him to begin his Octet that year at a festival organized by his (then) manager Kunle Mwanga. There were several gigs in the U.S. and some tours in Europe at major festivals that helped the band to develop.

The 80's arrived and we found the big band performing at Sweet Basil's on Monday nights which went on for a stint with many new and younger players like Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Rassul Sidik, Don Byron, Steve Coleman, Craig Harris, Bob Stewart, Vincent Chancey and others. Murray's recordings include two big band discs from this time, “ Live at Sweet Basil's “ volumes1&2 for Black Saint Records. Towards the end of the 80's he released “ South of The Border “ then “ David Murray Big Band Conducted By Butch Morris “ on DIW (a Japanese company) to begin the new decade.

His big band became a workshop in the early 90's at the Knitting Factory on Monday. The workshop would begin at 4'oclock and everyone was welcome to play through the old and new compositions that David, Butch, Craig and others wrote. It was open to the public and quite a fascinating and an interesting time for composers and young players to work with seasoned musician. Many things were accomplished during the four hours before the concert at 8p.m. There was anxiety over who would be allowed to play that night, but as the weeks passed some who may not have been ready developed into some of our great players in New York today!

David Murray celebrated Duke Ellington with a special concert in Paris at Cité de la Musique in 1997 with big band and 20 strings including the World Saxophone Quartet, Slide Ride, Dr.Art Davis, James Newton, Regina Carter, Carmen and Bobby Bradford, Hilton Ruis and Andrew Cyrille. They performed Strayhorn, Ellington with Murray's rearrangements of the great works. Paul Gonsalves' famous solo on “ Dimuendo and Crescendo “ in Blue was orchestrated for this occasion. This gave Murray the insight into another world as he studied the scores of the masters and discovered the hidden intricate landscapes of Ellingtonia.

2002 took David to Havana, Cuba to prepare for his latest big band recording “ Now is Another Time “ for Justin Time Records (Canadian). There he had the choice of the finest young players in Cuba who really cherished the opportunity to work and study his charts and rehearse endlessly for perfection. The disc was a hit and the band toured Europe on a successful run of festivals, but not in the U.S.

David Murray brings a new book of big band material to Birdland January 18-22, which represents his development as composer, arranger and orchestrator. Since 1997 Murray has lived in Paris and has written two operas, “The Alexander Pushkin Suite" and “The Sysiphus Syndrome" with Amiri Baraka, “Tongues on Fire" a revolutionary tribute to the Black Panthers with poetry of The Last Poets performed by Living Colour and The Roots among many records and projects. Most recently he has recorded, performed and co-produced (with Valérie Malot) “David Murray plays Nat King Cole en Español" with Omara Portuondo, 12 strings and 10 Cuban ensemble.

David's concentration on writing for large ensemble has become his latest obsession as he is constantly searching for textures, harmony, structures and orchestrations to express himself through his saxophone and bass clarinet. He is eager to spread this enthusiasm, experience and knowledge to his fellow musicians and touch another generation.



David Murray (Tenor)
Abdoulaye NDIAYE (Tenor)
Jay Rodriguez (Tenor)
Jaleel Shaw (Alto)
Lakecia BENJAMIN (Alto)
Alex Harding (Baritone)


Craig Harris


Omar Kabir


Chris Beck—Drums
Jaribu Shahid—Bass
Adegoke Steve COLSON—Piano

Visit Website | Purchase Tickets


Shop Amazon

Jazz News


Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.