David Murray: Ming's Samba
David Murray (tenor sax)
Ming's Samba (Portrait/CBS RK44432)
Composed by David Murray.
Recorded: New York, July 20, 1988
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
As remarkably prolific a recording artist as David Murray has been since his debut in 1976, it took 13 years before Ming's Samba became his first release on a major American label. With the aid of an ace rhythm section, the album, produced by Bob Thiele, showed off Murray's well-rounded and well-grounded skills, plus his ability to engagingly blend bop and free jazz with the gospel, R&B and funk roots of his youth.
On the captivating 10-minute title track, named for his wife, Murray swaggers with the rhythmic assurance and relentless creative momentum that Sonny Rollins displays when attacking a calypso. Murray's timbre here also seems closer than usual to Rollins's own. His long solo, at times dense and convoluted, is always highly entertaining. He toys with upper-register shrieks and overtones, but maintains a relatively restrained straight-ahead approach for the most part. Drummond contributes a playful solo delivered with a pulsating, bottomless tone. Hicks is smoking as always, exhibiting a spirited drive and all-encompassing, variegated command. Blackwell's totally compelling feature contains subtly evolving motifs and distinctive cymbal accentuations, and is a fine, concise example of his unique stylistic approach. Those listeners hoping for a more audacious Murray performance might find this track a mite disappointing, whereas those who've never heard him play so unpretentiously could find this to be a pleasant, revelatory surprise. The bottom line: it's uncompromisingly enjoyable.
Reviewer: Scott Albin