David Murray - Shakill's II (DIW, 1994)
This is a sequel to tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist Murray's successful groove based album Shakill's Warrior. According to the liner notes, this was an entirely different session, not leftover performances from the first album. Joining Murray on this disc are Don Pullen on organ, Bill White on guitar, and J.T. Lewis on drums. Like the original, this record is a throwback to the days in the 50's and 60's when organ and tenor combos were the rage. The music is a sweet mix of uptempo swingers, grinding R&B and laid back ballads. Don Pullen's composition "The Sixth Sense" leads off the disc in fine fashion as an upbeat rave with waves of organ and tenor saxophone riding over a simple drumbeat. "Blues Somewhere" has a sweet blue guitar solo to open followed by Murray slowly ratcheting up the intensity before climaxing his solo in a high pitched squeal. "For Cynthia" is a nice ballad with a samba like feel and Murray soloing at his most restrained. The gloves come off on "Shakill's II" and "Crazy Tales," the centerpieces of the album. Lewis and Pullen lay down a stompin' groove and White adds sparks and accents, while Murray leans back and wails like an R&B sax barwalker. After all of that excitement, a ballad is a wise choice, and "One for the Don" is a soft and supple duo improvisation for tenor saxophone and a very "churchy" sounding organ. "1529 Gunn Street" ends things as they began, with a flag-waving uptempo grinder, ending the proceedings on a happy note. I found this album to be interesting because it is another example of how Murray and Pullen, both nominally associated with the avant-garde, were really multi-faceted musicians with varied interests and influences. Their nod to the great organ and tenor combos of the past was not ironic, they genuinely loved the music.
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