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Album Review

Before his passing, jazz piano legend Mal Waldron recorded these duets with tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist David Murray at a studio in Belgium, finally issued some seven years later. The session has a somewhat hushed quality, considering the extroverted nature of Murray's playing. But he has always proved he is more than capable of nuanced, spirit-sensitive expressionism, and with the blue-green tinged style of Waldron, they fit beautifully together. It's a mix of standards, originals, familiar pieces from the Waldron book, and at least one choice that is off the beaten path. The centerpiece of any Waldron recording is his immortal composition "Soul Eyes," in this case 14 minutes of pure, unadulterated, genuine romance, with Murray on bass clarinet breezing through the pianist's languorous refrains. Another well-rendered ballad "I Should Care" is molasses thick, trickling slow, and extremely patient. It is a difficult chore not to rush the lugubrious tempo in the smallest increment for even the most skilled jazzmen. A third ballad "All Too Soon" has Murray leading out on tenor in his most restrained moments, and Waldron's solo is simply captivating. One of the more compelling pieces in Waldron's repertoire is "Hurray for Herbie," a dark, rumbling piece that is mysterious and delicious. Murray's melodic interpretation is thin and flattened out as Waldron's repeat modal framework is as foreboding as it is deliberate and unyielding. The anomaly is a version of the childlike Miles Davis tune "Jean-Pierre," as Waldron's piano goes deep into the gray spectrum of mixed colors and Murray doesn't play cute. It seems the first two pieces are reversed, as "Silence" is an upbeat and spastic reactionary bop piece, while "Free for C.T." is a quiet tune, contrasting lilting piano with scattershot and demonstrative but harnessed bass clarinet. Regardless, these two play as one marvelously, with all the depth and substance you could ever wish for. Listeners should be glad these sessions were unearthed, for they are welcome additions to the legacy of two great creative jazz icons. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: 19 February 1955 in Berkeley, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Initially an inheritor of an abstract/expressionist improvising style originated in the '60s by such saxophonists as Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp, David Murray eventually evolved into something of a mainstream tenorist, playing standards with conventional rhythm sections. However, Murray's readings of the old chestnuts are vastly different from interpretations by bebop saxophonists of his generation. Murray's sound is deep, dark, and furry with a wide vibrato — reminiscent of such swing-era...
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