David Murray (jazz musician)

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David Murray Class Struggle at the INNtöne Jazzfestival 2018

David Murray (born February 19, 1955 in Oakland , California) is an important American tenor saxophonist , bass clarinetist , composer and bandleader of jazz .

Live and act

David Murray's mother was a well-respected gospel pianist. Murray was eight years old when he started playing alto saxophone and was part of the Murray family band with church services. At the age of twelve he played in a rhythm and blues band, and at fifteen he led an organ trio in the then popular line-up of organ , saxophone and drums . During this time Murray - inspired by Sonny Rollins - switched to the tenor saxophone.

David Murray, Berlin 2014

In 1975 he moved to New York , where he found connection to the loft jazz scene through Stanley Crouch , who wanted to develop him as the successor to John Coltrane ( Wildflowers - The New York Jazz Loft Sessions 1976). He played u. a. with Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton . In 1976 he recorded his debut album Flowers for Albert for the independent label India Navigation , which was still completely under the influence of Albert Aylers and his eruptive streams of sound. In the same year he founded the World Saxophone Quartet . Internationally he toured first with Sunny Murray and with Johnny Dyani and James Blood Ulmer . In the 1980s, his playing found its way back to song forms and recognizable melodic figures. A key album for his neoclassicism is the 1980 album Ming , on which Murray first presented his octet, which consisted mainly of musicians with whom he already played in California and with which he received a lot of attention. The album Home (1982) merges “ the great sounds that black music has produced: gospel sounds, free jazz, Afro-Caribbean, archaic blues, soul. "

Between 1983 and 1987 he could also be heard in Kip Hanrahan's projects . In 1993 he played in a duet with Branford Marsalis on Fast Life . His New York quartet and the trio have remained an important pillar for him alongside the World Saxophone Quartet and numerous activities in the world jazz area.

Murray has lived in Paris with his partner since the mid-1990s . In 1991 he was awarded the prestigious Danish Jazzpar Prize ; He played to the New Jungle Orchestra of Pierre Dørge together a disk.

His son Mingus Murray is a guitarist and singer-songwriter .


David Murray, Amsterdam 1980

David Murray has mastered the playing techniques of the jazz avant-garde and integrates elements and techniques from all styles of jazz into his idiosyncratic, very characteristic saxophone and bass clarinet playing - vibrato , subtones from swing , phrasing from blues , funk , hardbop and more free styles. Particularly noticeable is the masterful and very controlled use of overtones , which go far beyond the "normal" range of the tenor saxophone and bass clarinet. Added to this is the integration of Albert Ayler's overblown saxophone playing , which Murray has gradually melodised and made tonally coherent. In the course of the 1980s his playing became more bound and structured: “ The natural looseness with which he achieves polytonality and his mastery in the free treatment of contrapuntal ideas come from the gospel communities - free jazz only plays the role of the reinforcing element here . "

Despite initial experiments in the avant-garde , Murray's most important influence, alongside Albert Ayler, is the Ellington saxophonist Paul Gonsalves , whom he greatly admires and considers to be underrated, along with Ben Webster and Lester Young . David Murray distinguished himself as an arranger and composer of pieces for his octet ; He has recorded his compositions Home-Scope and 3 D Family several times.

Discography (selection)

David Murray's work is one of the most extensive in modern jazz ; the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD by Richard Cook and Brian Morton lists sixty-three albums for the period from 1975 to 2001 alone, which the saxophonist released as a band leader ; there are also numerous albums with the World Saxophone Quartet and recordings as a sideman .

Duo and trio recordings

Quartet recordings

Octet and big band recordings

Recordings as a sideman


  • David Murray - I am a Jazzman. Documentation, France, 2008, 54 min., Director: Jacques Goldstein, production: arte France, German first broadcast: August 31, 2009, summary by arte


Web links

Commons : David Murray (jazz)  - collection of images


  1. after I. Carr and a. Jazz Rough Guide ; Feather / Gitler The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz , however, give January 19, 1955.
  2. Members of the octet were Anthony Davis (piano), George Lewis (trombone), Olu Dara (trumpet), Butch Morris (cornet), Wilber Morris (bass) and Steve McCall (drums), cf. Berendt & Huesmann, p. 193.
  3. Berendt & Huesmann, p. 193.
  4. "David Murray - I am a Jazzman" ( Memento of the original from September 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , arte , August 2009  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.arte.tv
  5. Christian Herrendorf: “The workhorse on the saxophone”  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Rheinische Post , July 18, 2007@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.rp-online.de  
  6. See Berendt / Huesmann, p. 188.
  7. cit. after Berendt / Huesmann, p. 196
  8. . See Berendt / Huesmann, 191. The authors point to his admiration of classic Swing - big bands back and see this relationship of his orchestral style in small ensembles; “Compact, massaged and resolute” (p. 192).
  9. The following selection of albums is based on the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD , editions 1996 and 2001.