29 April 2008

David Murray Trio: Live At The Peace Church

David Murray Trio: Live At The Peace Church
Danola DA001

David Murray (ts);
Fred Hopkins (b);
Stanley Crouch (d)

1. Beauty from Elsewhere 23:26 (David Murray)
2. Future Sally's Time* 8:21 (David Murray)
3. Low Class Conspiracy / Turquoise Cement Flower 14:42 (David Murray)

*Future Sally's Time was originally presented over two sides of the vinyl LP, and so there is an abrupt stop and start in the middle of the track exactly as it appeared.

Recorded live in concert at St Mark's Church NY 1976

This LP has been a rather illusive David Murray recording for me. In fact adding it to my collection (as far as I am aware) now completes a set of commercial recordings by Murray as leader or co-leader. This is certainly his rarest release. It has been long out of print, second hand copies hardly ever come up for sale, and dealer prices are some what inflated. But thanks to the generosity of a fellow Murray fan I now own the final piece of my Murray odyssey. Thank you so much Dale. The quality of the original digital transfer is really outstanding, thanks to one of Dale's friends. I hope my reformat has kept that.

The record was also worth the wait, because Murray's performance does not disappoint. This was a trio of musicians that played together, but not what one could consider a stable band. The recording is one of the few to feature jazz and cultural critic Stanley Crouch on drums soon after his arrival in New York. He was to make a much bigger name for himself as a rather opinionated journalist, but he has always been rather self-effacing about his drumming skills. I think he acquits himself perfectly well here. Although Murray is the strongest player, with Fred Hopkins in rather more subdued mood than usual, Crouch gives interesting percussion fills, and a clear grasp of the music. He had been a mentor and teacher to Murray in California, and his role is equally supportive here.

Although the sleeve notes make the point that the approach of musicians on what the writer calls "the New Jazz, Avant Guard Jazz, or Free Jazz" scene was away from the traditional role of leader and sidemen, Murray is credited as author of all the themes here, and dominates throughout. There are no alternating solos here, with Murray improvising strongly throughout a number supported by Hopkins on plucked and bowed bass and Crouch's fills. Hopkins does have some solo space on 'Future Sally's Time' but he remains uncharacteristically introverted. His playing circles downwards like water running out of a plug hole.

The statement of themes is far more diffuse when compared with recordings of the same pieces made within a few months of this date, but his often plaintive playing dominates. I struggle with musicological comparisons, but just jumping between different sections of different tracks suggests that they are more part of one approach to improvising ideas than distinct as themes.

As I've noted in an earlier post, Low Class Conspiracy was an oft used phrase in the Murray lexicon at the time, and it seems particularly associated with projects involving Crouch, so I'm guessing he coined the phrase. Here it is used for the name of one theme in a longer improvisation, is a very different performance from that on the LP of the same name, and is run into 'Turquoise Cement Flower'. I can't actually tell off my first few listens through where one stops and the other starts. The surreal title of the latter part wasn't used again, and the style of titling is notably different from the far more personalised approach Murray usually took, even within the titles on this LP. Does that suggest the name didn't come from Murray?

'Future Sally's Time' is somewhat closer to his usual personalising approach, but still has that sense of abstraction. I'm not aware of another recording of 'Beauty from Elsewhere', and again there doesn't seem to be the strong writing common to almost all the rest of his work.

This is a far more pensive performance than other records I've posted, with far fewer of the usual gospel ecstatic moments that Murray would become associated with, and far less of the flash than one finds on contemporary concerts made in Europe.

The title of the album is significant, not simply because it indicates that the music was recorded at St Mark's Church in Manhattan, but that this fact reveals something interesting and significant about the jazz scene in New York at that time. During this period Murray and his fellow musicians are often referred to as members of the 'loft scene', and music like this termed 'loft jazz'. The term, of course, referrers to the reuse of industrial spaces as domestic residences and artistic venues outside the mainstream of commercial live music. Murray played extensively in these venues, and a number of his early releases were recorded at places like Ladies Fort and Rivbae, and Crouch ran his own venue from the loft he lived in. Many musicians, though, have expressed their annoyance at the term 'loft scene' because they felt it inaccurately limited an understanding of the spaces in which the new music was made; and fighting against limitations on understanding were a central tenant of musical practice of this time.

The Peace Church, though, was one of a whole series of equally important venues outside the lofts where musicians played. While the postwar jazz clubs may have had very little space for the new jazz, these venues were integrated into other cultural activities and neighbourhood politics. The Peace Church had been a significant location for anti-Vietnam war activity and other radical political causes in the 1960s, and these ideas are embedded in the notion that it was also host to creative musicians in the 1970s.

I hope you enjoy this, and the next set of posts of music I'll put up here; all very kindly shared by Dale.


Wallofsound said...

I'm starting to get the hang of reformating and setting up digital files now. This week I mastered multi-file rars, so readers without RS premium accounts should be able to download these files and then restore them just by opening the first file in each series.

Here's a high quality MP3:


and a flac for the audiophiletechies:


Anonymous said...

Big hugs and thanks to Dale and WoS!! Me too - I never could find a copy of this record, even when it first appeared. Major discovery to find it here today! May the gods bless ya.

serviceton said...

cheers wallofsound.
I've been to St Mark's Church NY, although I live thousands of miles away.
But I've never seen this record - only heard mention of it.

10 years ago, I was a Murray collector - but i got drowned in the deluge [of albums], dumped by the giant wave [of material] - and gave up on it.

Damn, but *you've* covered some ground! ! ;o)

Now - as it comes down the pipe, I'm looking forward to hearing it with great anticipation.

Wallofsound said...

I went on a 'pilgrimage' to the church (and the sites of the lofts) last time I was in NY as well.

This has felt like a long quest for me as well. I'd love to know what you all think of the record now more of us can hear it.

sotise said...

thanks so much dale for coming through and honouring our request, and wos you too.
i have been trying to convince a friend in sydney, who has the only copy of this i have ever seen, to lend it to me to share here ,for months to no avail.

Tantris said...

Listening now, and very much enjoying this. Murray seems to weave between energy and melancholy - almost elegiac at times - which gives this some interesting dimensions.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to see this LP uploaded on this site. I personally know the guy that recorded and released this LP. Hes still around and still has a few copies of this LP along with a few more surprising LP's on his label. Sad that his label never really got big :(

Well if anyone is interested on the actual LP ; email me at Zareno1@bellsouth.net and I will let him know that people are interested. I think he will be more than happy to know that people know about that LP.



::::Happy Listening::::

Tantris said...

Hi Eric - what else is available on the Danola label?

Wallofsound said...

This is certainly the rarest of DM records, so it's strange these original copies aren't available. I've been looking for copies for several years. I did find the same was true for Conceptual Saxophone, though.

As far as I'm aware this was the only release on Danola. Is your friend Dan Serro? As far as I was aware he was the label owner, and still sells jazz LPs, but I didn't know he had any for sale.

I noticed that Lucky Four has been reissued, and gets and excellent rating in JazzWise magazine. Perhaps this one is ripe for rerelease, or a CD or download issue.

Anonymous said...

yes, my friend is Dan Serro. He still is the owner of the label, and still has copies. If your interested heres his email address Danola@aol.com


Dan said...

Hi, I am Dan Serro and i am the owner and engineer who recorded the David Murray at the Peach Church record. I am glad to see people are still interested in it and am happy to tell you all that there is copies still available. As long as i have them they will be priced at the same as when i put the record out. $20.00 plus shipping. You can reach me at danola@aol.com and you can check out my web sit at http://members.aol.com/
danola. I have a stock list of "unused" records that might be of interest at prices that are very low. Of the 9 records i produced (8 on the Kharma label) this is one of the two favorites. I especially enjoyed the duet between Stanley and Fred. I am only sorry that Fred left us before i could do the duo bass record i wanted to do with him. One of these day i will put out a record of him as a memorial as i think he was one of the best around. Keep listening and enjoy the music.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing Dan, and for all labours. Me too - I was always hoping that Fred Hopkins would do a solo record, but it was not to be. May he rest in peace.

anyathar said...

thanks for this record, it looks interesting and i am glad to be able to hear it. fun reading the comments for this post, as well!

Anonymous said...

Can someone (Dan?) confirm when this was released? My copy reads pc registered 1991. Was that a typo (did it come out in 1981?) or was it really not released until the early 90s? Or is the 1991 a reissue?

brian said...

could you re-up this gem… I'm too late!!! please!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am glad to see the interest in my record of David Murray "Live St The eace Church". I still have copies left as well as some of the other records i have produced. There were 8 records. If anyone in interested they can get in touch with me at danola@aol.com.
Dan Serro

kinabalu said...

@Dan Serro:

From what I can see, the Peace Church was the only one out on the Danola label. The others were on the Kharma label.


If you are reading this, could you please indicate which ones you have? It's certainly the kind of thing that me and the other bloggers would be interested in.

Dan Serro said...

Hi, Dan Serro here again. The "peace Church" record was the only one issued on the Danola label. I have others but ran out of money before i could release them. Would love to do so if anyone out there is interested in helping with the finances.
As far as when the record was recordedd and issued. It was recorded in 1976 but not released untill much later. Not sure of the exact date.
For those that are interested i hasve a list of records that i imported back then from around the world. They are new and unused and the prices are the same as i have not raised them. You can contact me at danola@aol.com if you want a copy of the list.
Dan Serro

kinabalu said...

According to Discogs, the Peace Church record on Danola was issued in 1991. I have no other source of information about the release date.