2 August 2008

Kahil El'Zabar with David Murray Golden Sea

Kahil El'Zabar with David Murray Golden Sea

Sound Aspects Records 027
Recorded January 28,1989 in Chicago

Kahil El'Zabar (traps, earth d, ashiko d, mbira, sanza, ankle bells, vc)
David Murray (ts, bcl)

1. Golden Sea (Kahil El'Zabar) 10:50
2. Dreams (Kahil El'Zabar) 5:55
3. Sunrise Serenade (Kahil El'Zabar) 7:55
4. Sweet Meat (Kahil El'Zabar) 7:40
5. All Blues (Miles Davis) 10:10
6. Song For A New South Africa (David Murray) 4:45

Kahil El'Zabar and David Murray seem to bring out something special in each other. They've been consistent collaborators: El'zabar has been in a couple of Murray's quartets (including the excellent, but hard to find, People's Choice) and a couple of Octets; while Murray's been on four duo albums under El'zabar's name. All the duo recordings are worth owning, but this (for me) is the strongest. It's also sadly the hardest to get hold of; and I'm not sure it even got a CD release.

El'Zabar and Murray share an interest in Afro-centric music and pan-African culture, and this is apparent in much of the music here. The very title of Murray's 'Song For A New South Africa' is an index of this. However, the orientation is surprisingly best achieved on their interpretation of Miles Davis' 'All Blues'. Murray is at his plaintive best on Bass Clarinet, while El'Zabar plays the Mbira or Sanza (which the LP lists as separate instruments, but which I've always understood them to be two names for the same Shona 'thumb piano' instrument). The track reaches its peak with Murray playing and El'Zabar singing. This is, perhaps, my favorite piece of Murray Bass Clarinet 'ballad' playing. He seems to take a perverse pleasure in playing a bass instrument beyond its usual highest frequencies, and draws upon the textures of gospel playing to create a sound I find deeply affecting. A haunting and beautifully realised cultural and musical fusion. 'Sunrise Serenade' features El'Zabar alone on Mbira/Sanza with ankle bells and a wordless vocal and rhythmic chants. It's one of the best tracks on the LP for me, though regular visitors to this blog may find it a step too far beyond jazz sensibilities.

Each track has a distinctive texture, achieved most often by El'Zabar's use of different percussion instruments (Murray has never made major changes to playing style across his whole career, let alone an LP). 'Dreams' features a hand drum (I'm guessing it's the Ashiko drum) and a more meditative and gentler start for Murray on tenor before his characteristic gospel-rich style kicks in. I'm also speculating when I say this sounds like a total improvisation from Murray; a notion backed up by the fact that none of the pieces credited to El'Zabar have strong melodies (a Murray characteristic). I think the balance (on this track and the whole LP) works very well overall, though, giving a sax and percussion duo album a lot of variety. For Sweet Meat El'Zabar plays conventional jazz traps with lots of cymbal ride and rhythmic work on the tuned drums while Murray's ecstatic tenor runs build in intensity. This is possibly the most conventional duo piece, but executed with panache. 'Song For A New South Africa' features a poly-rhythmic hand drum and ankle bells textual bed, and a fairly straight-forward rendering of the strong melody riff by Murray. They clearly liked this number because the duo repeated the piece on record three years later on A Sanctuary Within, and thirteen years later on Love Outside Of Dreams with very similar, if slightly more complex renderings.

1989 was a classic year for Murray, and his work made available in that twelve moths is remarkably wide. Albums released in that year included a James Brown-tribute funk project (Cold Sweat), a challenging piano-sax duo with Dave Burrell (Daybreak), an attempt at the jazz mainstream through the Columbia-released Ming's Samba, four other jazz quartet albums under different group names and for different labels (I Want To Talk About You, Last Of The Hipmen, Lucky Four, The Fo'tet), and a WSQ collection of soul covers (Rhythm & Blues). This one fits in the eclectic moment comfortably. I hope you enjoy it.


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

Thanks. Most popular jazzer on the internet? Or Pharoah?

ABE said...

Thank you - listening to it now - very, very good.

drhotte said...

Nearly the complete catalog of sas was released on CD. Sadly, many of the older ones are OOP.
This One is in my CD collection.
Are you interrested in more sas titles I could post some to this Blog, especially Kahil El Zabar's Another Kind of Groove from 1986 (w. B.Bang & M.Favors)
How are the regulations to make a contribution to Inconstant Sol:
Only leave a comment with link?

Greetings and thanks for many other great downloads I took from this side


Wallofsound said...

Thanks for the update, drhotte.

More Kahil El'Zabar would be very welcome. You can post a download link in the comments. I'm happy to post in the main section if you want to pass material on to me.

sotise invited me to join the posting team, and he may be willing to do so for others if you have things you want to share on a regular basis.

Nick said...

Thank you for this. This is exactly what my weekend-addled brain needs right now. Beautiful!

drhotte said...

Thanks for your rapid answer, Wallofsound:

Here is the Kahil El' Zabar Ritual Trio:
Another Kind Of Groove, rec. 1986.


You can post it in the main section, if you want.

I'm only uploading to rapidshare.com and only in mp3/256.
(All what's to say about bitrates and the so called lossless audio files is said sometime ago at the following blog:

If that's o.k. for you, so I will post another sas title in the next days in the comment section of newest post at Inconstant Sol.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this!. I dont know if Golden Sea is strongest than One World Family album, but both are great duo of Murray El'Zabar.


Anonymous said...

All still avaliable through mr. de freitas


lc said...

thanks a lot for sharing this one, Wallofsound.
one can hear it's been listened to over and over again. did the cracks add to the listening experience? they might.
I've never been a big fan of David Murray's.
more often than not, I could recognize his talent I guess, but no studio recording of his ever really did for me, until today that is.
the sharing of sonic space, some kind of musical communion even when Murray is leading it up, all of it, and more, make it such a rewarding experience.
yeah, that's a great one.
thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Hi, the links don't work anymore. Is that fixable? Would be really great if it was... D#

Wallofsound said...

When I posted this, I believed it was out of print. The comment from anonymous suggests it is still available, and on CD. I suspect a complaint has been made to rapidshare and they have blocked the link.

Anonymous stated that the CD is available by contacting:


Because I only post OOP material I'm sorry, but I won't be reposting. Please buy a copy.

Anonymous said...

WoS: Perhaps you weren't aware that several months ago, when a post of Braxton's solo "Composition 113" appeared here, we removed the post in its entirety after Mr. de Freitas contacted us, advising us that it was apparently still available from him.

It seems that no-one on the planet was / is aware of the availability of his recordings, except himself, such are his marketing skills.

fzoli said...

Wrong URL. Why?

kinabalu said...


nope. We've had this issue before with another posting. Apparently, Mr. de Freitas keeps recycling his old Sound Aspects catalogue through the above email address and what has happened in all likelihood is that he's made a complaint to RapidShare which has subsequently removed the links.

Now, we have made the observation before that some sort of web presence or marketing, certainly more than an email address, would be good for business. Anyhow, the bottom line is that Sound Aspects is for all purposes off limits for this blog.

On the other hand, I do have some unreleased Kahil El'Zabar from the same period which I could post as a substitute. And it's not on THAT label (or any other label, for that matter). Just hang in there and be patient. You will be rewarded.

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