SAX PLAYER DAVID MURRAY’S INTUITIVE SYNTHESIS

David Murray

On 18 November the ten-day International London Jazz Festival came to an end. For ten days, the British capital turned into a grand celebration of jazz music uniting jazz players from Europe and America.

David Murray

Every November starting in 1993, the organizers of the London Jazz Festival – the Council of England for the Arts and BBC Radio-3 – unite prominent jazz musicians from America and Europe in the British capital. As a rule, the festival features musicians performing various types of jazz from Dixieland to free jazz and fusion. The ten-day festival program of this year amazed with its grandeur.

David Murray

It consisted of over 300 concerts and improvised performances in more than 50 locations. Unlike other such festivals, the London Festival does not take place in just one concert hall. For the ten days of the festival, jazz is played not just at London’s four largest concert halls, but also in clubs, restaurants, cafes and even pubs. It features over 300 musicians from the US and European countries. London was entirely turned into one huge performance stage.

David Murray

The focal point of the closing day of the festival, 18 November, was the performance at the Barbican Centre of the famous American tenor saxophonist David Murray who soloed in all compositions.

This is what London-based jazz critic Yefim Barban had to say about David Murray and his music:

57-year-old David Murray is one of the most prominent tenor saxophonists of the post-Coltrane era. It is possible that his art constitutes an epoch in the history of the presence of this instrument in jazz, as it was with Hawkins, Rollins or Coltrane. In any case, sings of that have shown in his recent music.’It seems that technical abilities of tenor saxophone in jazz have been long exhausted by the great masters of the past.

David Murray

However Murray’s main quality is in his intuitive ability to synthesize both technically (meaning instrumental skill) and aesthetically (meaning the stylistic nature of his improvisations and compositions).
David Murray

David Murray managed to reconnect eras in jazz which is still divided into traditionalists and avant-garde artists. In addition, he did so through a method which is perceived as synthesizing tradition and innovation so organically, that one would not dare call his music eclectic.

David Murray

Beginning around 1980, Murray has demonstrated mature and unique individuality and music rich with content. Guided by the traditions of Duke Ellington, David Murray in his composition projects has a propensity for the music of large forms, the suite and oratory genres. The heptamerous suite “Picasso” for an octet and an oratorical composition for singers, a reader, a jazz sextet and a classical string quartet named “Pushkin” is probably his most significant opuses in these genres.

David Murray

“Pushkin” with its fragments from “Peter the Great’s Negro” and “Eugene Onegin” may very well be classified as the music of the Third Movement, if Mur ray did not leave so many ‘jazz fingerprints’ on its stylistics.

David Murray

Interestingly David Murray does not suggest that young saxophone players follow his footsteps in jazz. When we met in London, he noted that he had always insisted on the young musicians mastering the ideas of Coleman Hawkins before playing in Murray’s style or in the style of Albert Euler, because according to him, it is Hawkins who is the father of tenor saxophone. Murray himself, of course, did not just master his ideas brilliantly, but also enriched them with a new meaning.

David Murray

Natalya Golitsina
Radio Svoboda