David Murray: David Mingus


David Mingus


David Murray (tenor sax)


Children (Black Saint 120089)

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David Murray (tenor sax),

James “Blood” Ulmer (electric guitar), Lonnie Plaxico (electric bass), Marvin “Smitty” Smith (drums)


Composed by David Murray


Recorded: New York, October 27 and November 15, 1984


Rating: 84/100 (learn more)

Ornette Coleman's harmolodics minus the clutter—that's "David Mingus," the one electric track on tenor saxophonist David Murray's otherwise all-acoustic album Children. Instead of the chattering twin guitars that adorned the background of Coleman's '80s funk abstractions, Murray uses just one—James Ulmer—and puts him in the forefront.

Ulmer's skronking accompaniment and percussive, freely melodic improvisation set the stage for Murray's own squalling, squiggling, register-jumping, Albert-Ayler-meets-A.C.-Reed tenor solo. Bassist Lonnie Plaxico plays countermelody most of the way, occasionally worrying over a motive, but for the most part improvising lines that hold equal weight with the guitar and sax. Speaking of weight, Smith is rather heavy-handed. His mannered shuffle beat is oppressive at times, though he does manage to mix it up with Murray whilst keeping the groove strong.

At the time of this recording, in the mid '80s, Murray was a thrilling player more often than not. He'd developed a comprehensive technique that lent his playing greater depth than it had in the '70s, when he relied heavily on expressionistic devices derived from his fascination with Albert Ayler. This context might not be ideal. It's easy to prefer Murray's acoustic work; the great subtlety of which he's capable is less a factor in an electric setting. Still, this track reveals an incredibly exciting, endlessly creative saxophonist at the top of his game.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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