Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b 19 February 1955, Berkeley CA) Reeds, composer. His father played guitar, mother piano in church; he played in church, led R&B groups as a teenager, met people like Stanley Crouch, Bobby Bradford, Arthur Blythe; studied formally on West Coast, went to NYC '75 and played with Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Anthony Braxton. He contributed to the Wildflowers Festival '74. A first-class musician, he has recorded prolifically, mostly on tenor sax, also soprano.

Low Class Conspiracy '76 on Adelphi included Fred Hopkins, Phillip Wilson; two volumes of Low Class Conspiracy live in Amsterdam '77 called Penthouse Jazz and Holy Siege On Intrigue on the Circle label added Crouch, Don Pullen, Butch Morris on cornet. Solomon's Sons '77 on Circle had a solo tenor track, duets with flautist James Newton and a solo track by him. Quartet sets Last Of The Hipman on Italian Red and Let The Music Take You on French Marge were both recorded in Rouen the same day; quintet The London Concert on Cadillac and trio 3D Family on hat Hut at Willisau, all '78. On India Navigation: Flowers For Albert '76 with Phillip Wilson, Fred Hopkins, Olu Dara on trumpet; Live At The Lower Manhattan Ocean Club '74 (two volumes) with Hopkins, Wilson, Lester Bowie; New Music/New Poetry with Amiri Baraka and Steve McCall. A series of a dozen or so albums on Black Saint included quartets Interboogieology '78, Morning Song '83 and Children '84 (with James Blood Ulmer, Lonnie Plaxico, Marvin 'Smitty' Smith on drums); trio Sweet Lovely '79, big band Live At Sweet Basil '84, five octet sets and quartet A Sanctuary Within '91.

His Ming's Samba on Columbia '89 produced by Bob Thiele was very highly regarded (title track for his wife); his constant recording with varying lineups continued on DIW, eventually distributed by Columbia: In Our Style '86 was a duo with Jack DeJohnette, Hopkins added on two tracks; at least 16 albums in the '90s included The David Murray Quintet '94 with Ray Anderson and Anthony Davis; The Tip and Jug-A-Lug (Part 2) by the David Murray Funk Band; Special Quartet with Hopkins, McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones; octet Picasso, Ballads For Bass Clarinet, another David Murray Big Band, at least nine more by '96. On top of all this there were other releases on Red Baron, Sound Hills etc. He played bass clarinet in an NYC concert '83 with Jimmy Hamilton, John Carter and Alvin Batiste; two beautiful volumes of Clarinet Summit were released '85 on India Navigation including his solo 'Sweet Lovely'. Solo albums included Surreal Saxophone on Horo, Organic Saxophone on Palm, Conceptual Saxophone on Cadillac, all '78; David Murray Solo Live '80 in two volumes on Cecma; he played in the World Saxophone Quartet until '86. Ugley Beauty '93 on Evidence was a duo with Donal Fox on piano.

Murray won the JazzPar award '91, his musical ideas and ambitions almost too much for the fans to keep up with; he sat in with the Grateful Dead '93, leading to Dark Star: The Music Of The Grateful Dead '96 on Astor Place, a predictable failure except for those who like their music mostly raggedy: too little thought and rehearsal seemed to have gone into it, though the title track (a Dead anthem) rose to a mighty tumult. But Murray's prolific activity should remind us that where there is no risk there is no gain. Fo Deuk Revue '97 on Justin Time included Senegalese master drummer Doudou N'diaye Rose, a superb attempt at Murray's aim 'to fuse ancient music to the music of the future'.

[Rose, b Mamadou N'diaye, 28 July 1930, Dakar; d there 19 August 2015, was a national hero in Senegal, and was named a 'living human treasure' by the  United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. He had made an American debut in 1988 with a 30-piece orchestra at the Beacon Theater in New York; during his career he appeared onstage or on the bill with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel and others.]

Murray's eclecticism just won't quit. In 2009 he had recorded a tribute to Nat King Cole's Spanish-language albums, while releasing The Devil Tried To Kill Me on Justin Time, his third album as David Murray and the Gwo Ka Masters, with Klod Kiavué and François Ladrezeau, who play gwo ka hand drums, basic to the music of Guadeloupe. Several more members of the Masters include trumpeter Rasul Siddik from St Louis, guitarist Christian Laviso from Guadeloupe, another musician from Senegal and a drummer who once played disco; Sista Kee and Taj Mahal contribute vocals on the album. The group reaches out to Mother Africa from outposts all over the world; he planned to tour the USA with it in 2010.