David Murray Quartet – Francesca (ENG review)

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David Murray Quartet – Francesca

By a coincidence of the calendar, albums by saxophonists are being released one after the other right now. This time, it’s David Murray in a quartet with “Francesca.” “Francesca” is a testament to Murray’s boundless creativity, showcasing his effortless ability to blend various musical styles. Recorded at Hardstudios in Winterthur, Switzerland, after a triumphant European tour, the album reflects the deep camaraderie of the quartet and their dedication to exploring each composition with depth and nuance. You can even recognize the color of the Neumann microphones used in Swiss studios if your ears are attuned to studio sounds. In this fine team, pianist Maria Sanchez works wonders, as Murray himself confirms: “Marta Sanchez embodies an international touch, a classically trained pianist with a subtle approach to jazz, having studied greats like Randy Weston, Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and John Hicks. She is very sensitive and explosive.”

The mastery of the bass by Luke Stewart is another highlight of “Francesca,” as noted by Murray: “His bow articulation is perfectly suited to what I ask, and he makes my group swing. In the tradition of Jimmy Garrison and Fred Hopkins, he is the next on this instrument for this era of jazz.” The precise and powerful performance of drummer Russell Carter on “Francesca” further enhances the album’s dynamics. Murray remarks, “Having a drummer as precise and powerful as Russell is rare. His sensitivities are endless, and he really listens and responds effortlessly and tastefully. A drummer’s drummer.”

David Murray is above all known for his unique, warm, and swinging sound throughout, which sounds “live” even in the studio, driving each musician in this quartet in a wild race. Murray’s inventiveness is understandable when you know that since arriving in New York in 1975, he has established himself as one of the most prominent saxophonists and leaders in jazz. He has released over 200 albums under his own name, collaborating with artists such as Max Roach, Randy Weston, Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner, Taj Mahal, Mal Waldron, Amiri Baraka, Jerry Garcia, Doudou N’daye Rose, Cassandra Wilson, Jason Moran, Macy Gray, Omara Portuando, Saul Williams, Vijay Iyer, Quest Love, Black Thought, and Gregory Porter, to name just a few. He is also a founding member of the World Saxophone Quartet, a groundbreaking group that toured and recorded for 40 years.

This album is indeed a reflection of long experience, breaking conventional codes to impose his style. You will only truly know this album by listening to it all the way through, as it takes you from one beautiful surprise to another. As is often the case, don’t be fooled by the amateurish album cover—the content is quite the opposite. Murray’s masterful quartet was formed several years ago after the saxophonist decided he needed a more complete group with a piano to help realize his compositional goals and rhythmically powerful enough to inspire him to play something new and fresh. Murray heard a sonic synergy in the playing of these artists and assembled this cohesive unit.

Our list of “Indispensables” grows day by day, but who would complain about that?

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, June 17th 2024

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