Octet Plays Trane

COMPOSERS: Coltrane
LABELS: Justin Time
ALBUM TITLE: David Murray Octet
PERFORMER: David Murray Octet
CATALOGUE NO: JUST 131-2

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Murray is the most recorded jazz musician of recent times, as well as being one of its most recognisable voices. Choosing to redefine the jazz tradition in terms of the present rather than merging with it in terms of the past, his own saxophone style has taken account of Albert Ayler as well as pillars of saxophone rectitude such as Ben Webster, Paul Gonsalves and Coleman Hawkins.

In hand with consistently expanding the emotional and technical resources of his instrument, he has sought to create challenging contexts in which to focus his playing. This latest album addresses the music of John Coltrane, a player whose influence Murray has conspicuously avoided. Always careful to refract the past in terms of the present, the whole Octet negotiates Coltrane’s classic ‘Giant Steps’ solo as an instrumental passage and responds to the proprietary inner logic of ‘India’ with a collage of wild solos and earthy transitions.

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Coltrane has been subjected to more rote recapitulation than any other jazz musician, but Murray avoids such pitfalls, creatively responding to the challenges inherent in Coltrane’s music without being overwhelmed by his memory. Stuart Nicholson