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The David Murray Quartet: Seasons

Mike Neely By

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One of our finest saxophonists has recorded a surprising CD. David Murray who is usually associated with the avant-garde has collaborated with a first rate rhythm section to produce a melodic, mainstream disc at times akin to a Ben Webster small group session. This is quite a surprise from the World Saxophone Quartet's lead saxophone star. The title of the disc is "Seasons and the cast includes Roland Hanna on piano, Richard Davis on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums. David Murray plays tenor saxophone, and on two tracks bass clarinet. The choice of music includes, as the liner notes state, tunes "related to vagaries of love, aging and the weather. In short, it's a collection of familiar standards played by a group of musicians who are entirely comfortable with the music and with each other.

Murray's assured shift into the mainstream is in no small way supported by the rapport of Davis and Lewis who sound like they've been playing together for years. Whether it's a latin tinged "Autumn in New York or a bluesy, romantic "September In The Rain these masters provide all that's needed for the Hanna and Murray solos. Lewis has an extraordinary touch that is displayed in a wide range of styles; the drums are exceptionally well recorded. Davis' bowed bass solo on "September Song is particularly memorable. His warm, low key playing throughout is a trademark of this modest master. At times I wished he could have been given more solo time on this disc, but any opportunity to hear Davis is appreciated, especially this one with a very compatible Victor Lewis.

Roland Hanna's opening piano solo to the title tune "Seasons is a highlight of the disc. His playing at times is a bit cautious, but for the most part he is outstanding. He shares solo time with Murray, and fits in very comfortably with Davis and Lewis. Ultimately, the spotlight is on David Murray, and he does not disappoint. Some of his highlights include his somwhat edgy solo on the title cut, his Ben Websterish after hours solo on "September Song," and his wonderful bass clarinet solo on Claude and Ruth Thornhill's "Snowfall." All in all it's a very good disc exhibiting another facet of the always interesting David Murray.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Pow Wow Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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