353

David Murray Black Saint Quartet: Sacred Ground

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
David Murray Black Saint Quartet: Sacred Ground With three decades of recording to his credit, multi-reedist and composer David Murray's oeuvre is a varied one; his dabbling in pan-global multi-ethnic fusions and ensembles has ranged from solo recitals to big bands.

Murray's tenth album for Justin Time Records, Sacred Ground is inspired by his recent film soundtrack for Marco Williams' Banished, which documents the rarely discussed expulsion of thousands of African-American families from their homes at the close of the Civil War through to The Great Depression.

Sacred Ground is the first official recording of Murray's quartet without his long-standing pianist John Hicks, who passed away last year. Lafayette Gilchrist, a former student of Hicks, assumes his role with intensity and flair. Bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Andrew Cyrille have been two of Murray's main collaborators for years, bringing fresh perspectives to traditional concepts.

Vocalist Cassandra Wilson joins Murray's stellar line-up on the dramatic ballads that open and close the album, with intrepid lyrics written by poet Ishmael Reed.

An indictment against the oppression of former slaves after the Civil War, the titular opener features Wilson's soulful croon animating Reed's texts with simmering intensity. Rending at the supple fabric of the ballad structure, the quartet brings the piece to a simmering boil, climaxing with Murray's brawny tenor erupting in blistering, altissimo catharsis.

Not all mordant introspection, the carefree West Indian lilt of "Transitions" provides respite, with Murray, Gilchrist and Cyrille delivering vibrant, pneumatic statements.

The mournful "Pierce City" and "Banished" redirect the album through anguished lamentation. Filled with raw emotion, "Banished" unveils Murray's caterwauling bass clarinet over a roiling dirge, anchored by Drummond's sinewy arco bowing. "Believe In Love" and "Family Reunion" re-emerge from the depths with optimistic verve, the former a sultry tango work-out, the latter a riveting hard bop excursion.

Bringing the album full-circle, Cassandra Wilson rejoins the quartet on "The Prophet of Doom," a slinky blues work-out that draws socio-political parallels to the exploited Cassandra of Greek mythology with wry attitude and erudite refrains, mirrored by Murray's effusive tenor.

A focused and powerful statement from a multi-faceted artist, Sacred Ground is a perfect introduction for novices to Murray's voluminous discography.


Track Listing: Sacred Ground; Transitions; Pierce City; Banished; Believe In Love; Family Reunion; The Prophet Of Doom.

Personnel: David Murray: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Lafayette Gilchrist: piano; Ray Drummond: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums; Cassandra Wilson: vocal (1, 7).

Title: Sacred Ground | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Justin Time Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Avenida Graham" CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "To The Universe" CD/LP/Track Review To The Universe
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 14, 2016
Read "Tuesday Prayers" CD/LP/Track Review Tuesday Prayers
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 29, 2016
Read "@etude" CD/LP/Track Review @etude
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 17, 2017
Read "This Is The Uplifting Part" CD/LP/Track Review This Is The Uplifting Part
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Standard Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Standard Blue
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 7, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.