January 23, 2015 – 3:44 pm
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DAVID MURRAY OCTET
New York 1997 [no label, 2CD]
Live at The Knitting Factory, New York, NY; February 16, 1997. Very good audience recording.
Thanks to sbernstein (Scott Bernstein) for sharing the share at Dime.
Returning to my occasional “pure jazz” series, covering some of my favorite “real jazz” (that is, not jambands, or jazz-hybrids) concerts I’ve seen and recorded over the years, I present to you BARN165, The David Murray Octet from The Knitting Factory here in NYC. Setting the scene - after Branford Marsalis hooked up with The Grateful Dead in 1990, they continued to pursue some occasional collaboration with other jazz sax players - notably David Murray, a jazz giant, and Greg Osby. I got to see a couple of these performances (including one with the Jerry Garcia Band!), and was thusly exposed to David. It turns out that the man is a literal jazz GIANT - having released (by my count on Allmusic.com) approximately 80 (!) albums since 1976. Frankly, in terms of living jazz sax players, he’s got to be in the Top 5. I have since seen him three times, and this is the first of them.
Apparently his brief flirtation with the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia affected him enough to release an album in 1996 of Grateful Dead covers called “Dark Star: The Music Of The Grateful Dead”. This show at The Knit was right around then, so it was a good bet that we would hear some Grateful Dead stuff on this night. Being that this was a big name act at a smallish jazz club, the show was split into two separate tickets - an early show and a late show (and they cleared the room between sets). Sure enough, we got our Dead in the early show - a pretty “China Doll” and raucous “Shakedown Street”, after which David announced that was all of the Grateful Dead that the band had learned. The other tunes that filled out the first set were strong, and the set closing “Ballad For The Black Man” was beautiful. So far, so good - but nothing mind-blowing.
At this point I had no idea what we were in for in the late show - possibly some songs repeated from the early show… or maybe some different Grateful Dead from the album. But what we got was by far the most THRILLING, exciting, go for broke big-band jazz music I’ve ever had the good fortune to experience!
After a bit of joking around at the beginning of the set, David announces that he’s going to play “The Picasso Suite”, dedicated to his idol, Coleman Hawkins. This adventurous 45-minute suite ranges from flute/piano duet to full on saxophone honking, to all horns blowing full blast. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted from a jazz song and was an exciting roller coaster ride.
So, in summary - I came for The Dead, but was lucky enough to get some Picasso, which far and away the absolute highlight of this night! [After seeing this performed, I actually tracked down the original album that this suite appeared on - “Picasso”, recorded in 1992, and only available as a very expensive import from Japan. The liner notes tell me that David based the entire suite on a solo Hawkins sax piece of the same title, for a commission by and eventual live performance the Cleveland Museum Of Art. Two [sic] of the Octet’s band members from this show actually played on the original recording - Tani Tabbal, James Spaulding, and Wilber Morris.]
Grateful Dead historians will note that there is a semi-well-circulated David Murray show from just about a month later at The Fillmore in San Francisco (on 3/6/97) which is famous for being the night that Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Jeff Chementi sat in with David’s Octet (or Nonet?), and also the night that Phil Lesh met guitarist Stan Franks who was in David’s band that night (he was one of Phil’s “Friends” for a short time). It’s worth noting that only one of the players in David’s band on this night in NYC also played that night in SF (Winston Byrd). San Francisco got two more Dead songs in their show, but we got Picasso!
I believe that this show… was a part of the the Knitting Factory 10th Anniversary Celebration, where the owners brought out a lot of big jazz names to celebrate. I have seen David Murray two more since then, and was also blown away in different ways each time.
So 17-plus years later, I present what I could argue is the best, most exciting jazz performance I have yet to see - and I’ve seen quite a lot of them. If you are ready to be blown away, just skip to the beginning of the second set and get on the roller coaster!
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Picture of David Murray at The Knitting Factory by DJ Boutté, posted at jazzcontinuity.blogspot - Thanks!
Original recording: Scheops CMC54 hung from front of balcony > Sonosax SX-M2 > Tascam DA-P1
DAT playback: Sony R-500 > Sound Devices 722 digital input [@24/48]
Mastered: Soundforge Pro 11.0 - *All file manipulation in Soundforge done at 24 bits*. Volume normalization, clap scrubbing (hand scrubbed over 100 loud, nearby claps mostly from S1T7, S2T3). Sample rate conversion 48khz to 44.1khz using iZotope 64-Bit SRC set higher than “Highest Quality” setting w/anti-alias filter. Then dithered to 16 bits using using iZotope MBIT+ with Ultra noise shaping, with high dither settings. Tracked in CDWav.
Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.
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Disc 1 (Early Show)
Track 101. tuning 0:53 (1.5MB)
Track 102. Morning Song 13:08 (22.1MB)
Track 103. banter - band intros 2:07 (3.6MB)
Track 104. Shakill’s Warrior 14:34 (24.5MB)
Track 105. banter - dedication to Jerry Garcia 0:25 (712k)
Track 106. China Doll 10:34 (17.7MB)
Track 107. Shakedown Street 14:02 (23.6MB)
Track 108. banter - no more Grateful Dead 0:34 (966k)
Track 109. Ballad For The Black Man 12:14 (20.6MB)
Track 110. banter - thanks/band intros 0:55 (1.6MB)
Disc 2 (Late Show)
Track 201. crowd/intro/tuning 1:51 (3.1MB)
Track 202. Picasso Suite - Introduction 3:40 (6.2MB)
Track 203. Picasso Suite - Catalonian Vonz 15:09 (25.5MB)
Track 204. Picasso Suite - La Vie - The Jazz Life 3:53 (6.5MB)
Track 205. Picasso Suite - Portrait Of Sax And Yac 4:16 (7.2MB)
Track 206. Picasso Suite - Airtime For Hawkins 4:56 (8.3MB)
Track 207. Picasso Suite - When Hawk Meets Pablo 10:46 (18.1MB)
Track 208. Picasso Suite - Reprise/Catalonian Vonz 3:56 (6.6MB)
Track 209. banter - band intros 1:20 (2.2MB)
Track 210. The Desegregation Of Our Children 15:16 (25.6MB)
Track 211. thanks 0:40 (1.1MB)
David Murray - tenor sax
DD Jackson - piano
Gary Valente - trombone
Wilber Morris - bass
James Spaulding - flute/alto sax
James Zoller - trumpet
Winston Byrd - trumpet
Tani Tabbal - drums
Click here to order David Murray’s Picasso.
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