David Murray is proving at 27 to be one of the young jazz lions worthy of showing his pride. "Home" showcases Murray's octet and his development as a writer and arranger.
Anybody who's listened to Murray's firebrand tenor saxophone over the last five years already knows that he's something special. Maybe it's because he comes from the urgent and earthy tradition of Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins that muscled its way out front in the energies of Archie Shepp, Sonny Rollins and King Curtis. But, while Murray knows the traditions inside out, he's busy "recasting" them, as the liner notes point out.
Listen to the mostly muted and moody title cut and you'll hear echoes of Mingus and Ellington in the rich, dreamy ensemble interaction and the lovely, languid melody. "3-D Family" is a new-age waltz, the Basie Band insistently swinging a Gil Evans-type chart. "Santa Barbara and Crenshaw Follies" is cacophonous and free, rebop in its dense harmonies. "Last of the Hipmen" rides an Afro-Latin pulse to a delirious finish, while "Choctaw Blues" is an Afro- Indian freedom song in the Max Roach tradition.
Like the best jazzmen, Murray expands personal virility into aggressive charts; better yet, he swings the band mercilessly, encouraging the players (including Henry Threadgill, Olu Dara, Steve McCall and George Lewis) to breathe extra dimensions into the arrangements.
Throughout, the playing is exemplary and inventive, Murray's in particular. His work with the World Saxophone Quartet has suggested new and unusual voicing. That and the momentum evident here make "Home" a good place to go. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM DAVID MURRAY OCTET -- Home (Black Saint BSR0055). THE SHOW DAVID MURRAY QUARTET, Saturday at 10 and 11:30 and 1 a.m. at D.C. Space.