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Album Review

For this date, Murray teamed up with the able veterans Richard Davis and Joe Chambers, producing a varied, solid, and enjoyable session mixing originals with standards and showing that he was quite capable of holding his own among the older pros. Davis had always shown himself to be open to all sorts of jazz, from the most traditional to the outer reaches of the avant-garde (check out his work with the Creative Construction Company), and he runs the gamut here. His arco playing on the title track and "Herbie Miller" is as free as you please, yet he swings Ellington's "Take the Coltrane" like nobody's business. Butch Morris contributes a lovely number, "Fling," allowing Murray to indulge in his romantic side. The leader's playing is typically gritty and imaginative throughout; Murray rarely gives less than 100 percent live or on record, and if his work here is less than his most inspired, that still leaves plenty of room for a lot of good blowing. Joe Chambers switches to vibes for the closing track, a luxuriant rendition of Strayhorn's classic Chelsea Bridge, and along with deep work from Davis, provides a rich bed for Murray's most probing playing on the date. Summoning the spirits of Ben Webster and perhaps just a bit of Archie Shepp, he pours phrase after liquid phrase in a warm and touching tribute to one of the great jazz composers. The Hill offers an accurate snapshot of Murray in the mid-'80s, straddling the mainstream and avant-garde and proving himself quite adept in either.

Biography

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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