Sunday, June 29, 2008

David Murray and Mal Waldron - Silence (Justin Time, 2008)

Both saxophonist David Murray and pianist Mal Waldron are masters of inside/outside improvisation, comfortable in avant garde free improvisation, and swing based traditional jazz. Both facets are on display during this duet performance, recorded about one year before Waldron's death in 2002. Both the opening "Free for C.T." and the closing version of the Waldron classic "Soul Eyes" have Murray playing bass clarinet. The deeply hollow and woody sound that Murray gets on the instrument is descended from Eric Dolphy's performances, which is appropriate since Dolphy was featured on Marldon's Where? LP from the early 1960's. Waldron's full and percussive piano backs these performances, and all of the others on the album. "Hurray For Herbie" is an uptempo performance with Murray swirling and sweeping on tenor saxophone, jumping all over the place, while Waldron plays the straight man, feeding him chords and notes. An unexpected performance was "Jean-Pierre" a Miles Davis composition from his 1980's comeback period. Murray really goes for it on tenor, with Waldron taking on his accompaniment at a rolling boil. This was a very good album of two master musicians interacting with each other on common ground. The bass and drums aren't missed at all, Waldron's pianism is able to cover the bass and leaves nothing to be desired. Much like Roland Kirk and Jaki Byard, Murray and Waldron have the whole history of jazz at their fingertips, and all of this knowledge is on display during this excellent disc.

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