Circle Records RK 16177/5
Circle Records, Aachener Str 60/62, 5000 Koln, Germany
Dedicated to Martin Luther King
I’m honoured to be invited to join the contributors to one of the most interesting blogs around. I’ve just managed to get hold of a copy of James Newton and David Murray’s Solomon’s Sons , so I thought I’d start off with this one. It’s one of the final records I needed to complete my David Murray collection. (I’m still missing Live at Peace Church and Sur-Real Saxophone, if anyone has copies they want to sell at a reasonable price). If you’ve read any of my blog entries on Murray, you’ll know I like the detail. Hope there’s not too much here.
James Newton Flute
David Murray Alto and Tenor Saxophone
Monk’s Notice (James Newton) duo 13:29
The Dean (James Newton) flute solo 6:47
Theme For The Kidd (David Murray) duo 9:05
3D Family (David Murray) sax solo 7:09
Solomon’s Sons (James Newton) duo 9:05
Recorded in live at the Smudge Pot, Claremont, California on January 16th 1977
Recorded by Bruce Bidlack
Produced by Rudolf Kreis
Recordings of three duo performances and a solo each for two reunited musicians back where they started playing: Claremont, California. By this point Murray had become the darling of the loft jazz scene in New York, as well as a regular feature on the European festival circuit. Murray tended to work in a quartet setting in the late 1970s, and so along with a couple of solo recordings, it’s interesting to hear Murray work in such a challenging context.
The album is credited to Newton and Murray, and the inverse alphabetical order suggests Newton had the key role here. Nevertheless Murray plays an equal role in the playing and composition stakes. Murray worked with Newton on three further recordings that I am aware of: a 1995 release of recordings made under Jon Jang’s leadership (Two Flowers on Stem); a jointly led quintet CD released in 1996; and a1998 work with Guadeloupian musicians (Creole)
Two note-worthy asides of interest to Murray fans. First, the album credits suggest he plays both alto and tenor on this recording. Although I think I’ll need a couple more listens to spot where he uses the smaller horn, the back cover photo shows both in evidence. Second, although not noted on the cover, Newton’s 'The Dean' is dedicated in the live announcement to Stanley Crouch. It’s certainly possible to draw the conclusion that ‘The Dean’ was a the affectionate name for Crouch who, as a staff member at Pomona College (where Murray studied), became a mentor for many black musicians involved in the local black arts movement.
The associations of this recording with Murray’s past and future resonate particularly strongly in one track. This was also the first time '3D Family' was recorded; although he returned to the theme on three further occasions in 1978, ‘81 and ‘90. The importance of the composition to Murray is apparent in the 1978 release where he makes it the title track and dedicates it to (I think) his father Walter P Murray. When Murray Jnr moved to Paris he took the title as the name for his production company. Murray also recorded Newton’s 'Monk’s Notice' almost exactly a year later on Last of the Hipman.