Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Review: David Murray - Now Is The Time

In the now near constant question that seems to always accompany any saxophone player of any repute "who is the new John Coltrane?" the answer in truth is of course always "no-one". There was one John Coltrane, accept it and move on.

In terms of spirit, adventure and pure uninhibited passion though, the man that has always come closest is the stellar David Murray. Seemingly comfortable playing in any group size or format, he is a master of both the tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, and the same boundless energy always comes through.

Always dazzling in smaller settings, it's his bigger octet and larger group outings that seem to showcase the fire the best. And nowhere is this better shown than on 2003's 'Now Is Another Time', under the banner of 'The David Murray Latin Big Band'.

Still playing with long-serving band-mates Hugh Ragin on trumpet, and Hamlet Bluiett on baritone saxophone, the trio are perfectly complemented by a full-size big band of Cuban musicians, and together the outfit creates a powerful punch of non-stop pure and unmistakably passionate Latin jazz.

Each piece displays suitably sweaty yet funky grooves, perhaps the signature of any Cuban music, and all the way throughout there are infectious poly-rhythms. Such is the strength of the rhythm players you could blank out everything else and you would have the perfect groove album just calling out for some club remixes. And yet while this is going, all of the soloists are having some sublime and untoppable joyous fun on top. Driving choruses frame stunning solo after stunning solo, and everything here, absolutely everything, sounds big and full.

Best yet for fans of Murray is that the man himself is in clear peak form (has he ever been in anything else?) and manages to keep things going at a seemingly unrelenting pace. His saxophone playing is as powerful as ever and the bass clarinet gets a good workout and adds a different element to the more familiar Latin sounds.

It's a new direction for Murray, all the more surprising given that he has never been one to stick to a single path for any long period of time, and it's a blinder of a turn. Power, passion and finesse have rarely come together so well, and this easily sits within Murray's top 10 recordings.


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