25 April 2008

David Murray Solo: Organic Saxophone (flac and Lame)

David Murray Solo: Organic Saxophone
Palm 31

David Murray tenor saxophone

1. Body And Soul (dedicated to Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster) (Johnny Green)
2. Chan Pour Une Nouvelle Afrique Du Sud (David Murray)
3. Ballad For Matthew and Maia Garrison (David Murray)
4. Hope/Scope (dedicated to Mary Hope Lee) (David Murray)
5. All The Things You Are (dedicated to Ntazake Shange) (Jerome Kern)
6. The Prominade Never Stops (dedicated to George Brown) (David Murray)
7. Monica In Monk's Window (Stanley Crouch)

Recorded February 6 &; 7, 1978 live at the Theatre Mouffetard, Paris

Recorded by Jef Gilson

This recording is one third of a concert recorded in Paris in 1978. The other two parts were released on the Italian Red and British Cadillac labels. The Cadillac Conceptual Saxophone is, amazingly, still available commercially from the label. When you order you’ll get a vinyl copy from the original pressing. Let me know if you’d like one.

Organic Saxophone was released by Jef Gilson – who also recorded the concert – on his Paris-based Palm label. I’m guessing Gilson selected from the takes at the concert because this is the best programmed of the three LPs. Romantic ballads intersperse with sharper, wilder, performances, and the whole is very satisfying indeed. The recording is excellent for a live performance, although there is a very strong pre-echo of the sound explosions to come in each of the quiet moments in Murray's solos. This is most likely the result of ‘print-through’ where the magnetic signal encoded on the tape is passed on to the next layer of the tape wound on the reel. I must try and see if I can find out the full running order of the concert. I did try and see if there were any aural clues to the order, but it defeated me. It would be marvellous to have the whole two days of recordings featured on the three LPs made available as one release in performance order. I know that at least one of the masters still exists.

It’s the music that makes this recording, though:

This is the first time on record that Murray tackles a standard (well two, actually). 'Body and Soul' is dedicated to Hawkins and Webster, indicating the importance Murray placed on investigating the saxophone techniques of the masters of the instrument. Murray plays the theme with all the romanticism that made the Hawkins’ rendition a jukebox hit forty years before. From that point on, though, it’s an exploration of both the musical possibilities of the piece and the saxophone. Just as Hawkins had transformed what was possible on a tenor, Murray looks to go beyond even that. However, this is a lovely, tender, rendition which would set a pattern for his later exploration of the ballad in the jazz tradition.

‘Chant for a New South Africa’ is a wonderful, well titled, piece. He seems to be exploring the sort of counter-point used so effectively in the World Saxophone Quartet, but here from one soloist. Quite remarkable. It is both a meditative chant and a blow of frustration, punctuated with saxophone and verbal cries. He was seldom as overtly political in the naming, or playing, of a composition.

It is interesting how many of Murray’s recordings have dedications. His music always sounds very personal to me, and the dedications tend to suggest the relationship between his selection of music, his playing, and his personal relationships. I tend to a degree of speculation when trying to map out the dedications, and I’d be very interested to hear if I’ve got any of these right (or wrong), but they suggest a network of fellow musicians and friends who stimulated and supported his work. Ballad for Matthew and Maia Garrison feels a very personal piece, and I’m guessing that it’s named after the bass player and dancer siblings born to Coltrane’s bassist, Jimmy Garrison, and his wife, the dancer Roberta Garrison. The younger Garrison’s would have been ten and seven at the time of the recording, and the dedication suggests something of the creative world in which Murray operated at the time.

Hope/Scope is a much tarter piece featuring lots of Murray’s squeals and low to high leaps and runs, and the fast alterations between quiet and high volume. It feels right that this would be for the poet and writer Mary Hope Lee, whose poem “on not bein” is often a part of compilations of African American women’s writing. I’d like to think her 'A Song for David' from the following year was a reciprocal dedication. Murray reused the theme a further seven times on record in a variety of settings for quartet, octet and duo’s with piano players Dave Burrell and then Donald Fox. Murray's later playing is even more ecstatic than it is here, and usually set against piano clustered discords. Such an observation rather undermines the view that Murray became more mainstream as his career progressed.

The treatment of ‘All the Things You Are’ mirrors that of Body and Soul. A romantic statement of the theme and some lovely flights of playing that bring out the edge of a standard that’s often given a saccharin treatment. It’s dedicated to Murray’s then partner, poet Ntazake Shange, with whom Murray had been performing in New York for much of the previous year, and there are suggestions that they worked together in Europe during June 1977 (West 1977). I don’t know of any recordings of these performances, but I’d sure like to hear them if they exist. It’s pretty much an avant-lovesong.

Murray’s own ‘Promenade’ and Stanley Crouch’s ‘Monica In Monk's Window’ finish off the LP. The latter has a jolly theme which I think is pretty good writing from the EngLit-teacher-turned-drummer-turned-cultural-critic. Murray certainly does an excellent job with it in this five minute or so performance. As far as I am aware this is the only recording of both pieces. The earlier number is dedicated to George Brown, who I assume is the same GB who plays drums on the January Quartet Paris concert that appears on Last of The Hipman and Let the Music Take You [I featured Hipman in an earlier post here]. If you know anything more about George Brown I’d be very interested to hear.


Mary Hope Lee (1979): ‘A Song for David’. Callaloo, No. 5, Women Poets: A Special Issue (Feb., 1979), p. 89

Mary Hope Lee ‘on not bein’ collected in Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua (eds) (1981): The Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Women of Color Press.

Hollie I West (1977): ‘The Development of a Bright Star’ Washington Post 12th June 1977.


Wallofsound said...

Sorry it's been so long. Hope you like this:


there's more on the way.

Wallofsound said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Well done, W, good post!

Boromir said...

Some great tunes on this, I'll wait for the MP3. Many thanks for this gem WOS.

Wallofsound said...

For those of you with less storage- hungry appetites:


dalemcbdnl said...

Thanks Tim. Nice notes. Great to get both the music and the information.


sotise said...

thanks so much..T...ive been waiting to hear this for some years.
great choice beautiful write up.
thank you

1009 said...

not a comment on this post (although it is a swell one)--

just wanted to share some info that i fear got buried back in the cecil post. this is for people who use itunes & who are having trouble re-tagging files from inconstant or elsewhere.

highlight all of the files & right-click (on pc or ctrl-click on mac). select "convert to mp3." (btw, make sure, under "itunes preferences"/"advanced"/"importing" you have the sample rate set the same as the original files.) itunes will "convert" the old mp3s to new ones. the new ones can be re-tagged w/out any problem & then you can just delete the old ones.

this is what i have been doing as i am wicked anal about having everything sorted nicely on my maxed-out 80gb ipod. let me know if anyone has any questions.

nad3170 said...

It's really hard for me to keep up with the new posts (still a free rapidshare user) but it's great to see you back with the David Murray series, WoS. I really envy your ability to write long and interesting posts !
I wanted to ask you, do you read French ? If so please get in touch (pierre.crepon @ free.fr), I just got hold of a near complete collection of the two biggest jazz magazines in France from 57 to 96 so I can scan the DM related articles for your research if you want.


teddywilson said...

Thanks for this beautiful rarity.

jiiiiiiiq said...

Thank you very much Wallofsound, a magnificent and rare share and a heartwarming write up. You certainly like your David Murray, as do I.

Sorry but off-topic:

@1009: Yes I have a question for you. Why are you giving out such rubbish tips? By re-ripping your mp3s, and especially if using iTunes' terrible mp3 codec, you will lose much quality. There is absolutely no need to do this. Use a standalone tagging app to remove all the old tags, the track names and numbers will be preserved. Once the old tags are removed you can tag the files as normal.

Anonymous said...

hello wall:

I knew the drummer George Brown fairly well the last 20 years of his life before he passed away 2 years ago in Paris. if indeed you're still interested in some information about him I would be pleased to share some with you. I also knew the late Oliver Johnson as well who also recorded with david Murray (not to mention 20 or so recordings with Steve Lacy…



E S said...

Wall of Sound:

if you're interested in Information about George Brown (drummer on several recordings with D murray at the end of the 1970s) I knew him quite well the last 20 years of his life. Don't hesitate -


Anonymous said...

thanks so much for the LP, quality and notes.
i REALLY appreciate it.

all the best.


Ethnoscelsi said...

Might someone re-up this, please?
Thank you!

kinabalu said...

New links for this one:



Ethnoscelsi said...

Thank you so much, Kinabalu, for the new links to Organic Saxophone!
Much appreciated!

-Otto- said...

Thank you, WoS, for the original post, and thank you too, kinabalu for the re-up!

Javier Roz said...

Another great one kinabalu, thanks!