Kahil El'Zabar & David Murray: Groove Allure


Groove Allure


Kahil El'Zabar & David Murray


We Is: Live at the Bop Shop (Delmark DE-557)

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David Murray (tenor sax),

Kahil El’Zabar (percussion)


Composed by Kahil El’Zabar


Recorded: Rochester, NY, March 29, 2000


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

David Murray is like pizza: there's good pizza and great pizza, but there's no such thing as bad pizza. Ok, may be there is bad pizza (ever eaten Totino's frozen?), but there really isn't any bad David Murray. At his best, Murray is the most audaciously creative and intense tenor saxophonist of his generation. At his worst, he's merely one of the most audaciously creative and intense.

On the scale of extant Murray performances, this loose, bluesy duo with percussionist Kahil El'Zabar can't be rated at the top, yet it nevertheless has much to recommend it. Recorded live at The Bop Shop, a jazz record store in Rochester, NY, this seems to have been El'Zabar's gig. He wrote the tune, his name comes first on the album cover, and he gets extensive unaccompanied solo space. Murray is uncharacteristically deferential to his partner, staying put within El'Zabar's conga groove without engaging in extended fireworks. When he does get wound up, it sounds a bit pro forma, a bit "let's cut to the chase." That said, it's likely only someone very familiar with Murray at his best would notice. El'Zabar is a spirited, spiritual presence; he sets down a multi-faceted rhythmic bed that stands well on its own. The overall mood is one of cool intensity with an emphasis on groove. Not gourmet fare, certainly, but plenty tasty.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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