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David Murray Quartet – ‘Francesca’

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    Posted: 08 Jun 2024 at 10:33am
David Murray Quartet: Francesca

(Intakt Records. Album review by Tony Dudley-Evans)

DAVID MURRAY - Francesca cover

Francesca was recorded in Switzerland by a new quartet led by David Murray after an extensive European tour.  It features seven original compositions by Murray and one composition by pianist Don Pullen in tribute to fellow pianist Muhal Richard Abrams. Two of the tracks, Shenzhen and Pullen’s Richard’s Tune, feature Murray on bass clarinet.

On the first and title track, which is dedicated to Murray’s wife, Dr Francesca Cinelli-Murray, one is immediately struck by the richness of Murray’s tone on the tenor saxophone, a tone that is reminiscent of that of the great players of the 1930s, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Chu Berry. Murray’s solo on this track begins gently and lyrically, but gradually builds in intensity with longer, more intricate phrases, often reaching up into the higher register of the saxophone in ways reminiscent of Albert Ayler’s sound before winding down to the conclusion of the solo.   Bass player Luke Stewart and pianist Marta Sanchez contribute nicely melodic solos that complement Murray’s playing very effectively.

This build up of intensity and the use of the upper register of the saxophone or the bass clarinet is apparent on all eight tracks; some have been critical of this regular pattern, but there is an undoubted logic and coherence to his solos, and indeed a sense of drama and excitement.  In an interview of UK Jazz News (link below) Murray spoke of the importance of the importance of imbuing a sense of feeling into a recording: “After 50 years of blowing the horn on stage, I’ll take the feeling over the technical part every time.” He has certainly been successful in doing that on this album.

Murray’s seven compositions are mid to up-tempo pieces that provide plenty of space for the soloists.  Marta Sanchez and bass player Luke Stewart both share Murray’s mix of respect for the tradition and embracing of contemporary movements in jazz, while drummer Russell Carter draws on his love of Max Roach’s playing without actually copying it (cf. the interview cited above).    

Come And Go is the most up-tempo track and this features a particularly passionate solo from Murray who uses the upper register of the saxophone very effectively on the track.  The two tracks on which Murray plays bass clarinet, Richard’s Tune and Shenzen, are gentler, allowing space for Murray’s stunning tone on the instrument to dominate.  

The pattern is mostly theme plus solos, but some variety is built in, for example on  Am Gone Get Some where Murray trades fours with Carter, and on Cycles And Seasons which begins with some excellent quick fire interaction between Murray and Sanchez.

David Murray is now based back in New York, but continues to tour extensively in Europe.  This album is the result of such a tour which has enabled the quartet to play in and extend the original compositions.  Murray is an excellent organiser of a recording session – he played a key role in his friend Andy Hamilton’s first recording session – and he continues to produce well crafted albums.

LINK:Morgan Enos interviews David Murray about Francesca

from https://londonjazznews.com

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