Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hal Singer feat. David Murray - Challenge (Marge, 2010)

This was a very interesting collaboration between saxophonists Hal Singer and David Murray. Aided my Murray's core band of Lafayette Gilchrist on piano, Jaribu Shahid on bass and Hamid Drake on drums, the group develops a nice swing feel that is less of a tenor battle and more of a friendly conversation. The saxophone tones contrast nicely, with Singer's lighter Pres like tone counteracting nicely with the gruff Hawkins like feeling of David Murray. Occasionally I longed to hear them let rip with a Kansas City like tenor sax battle of history, but that's not the point of this disc. Rasul Siddik sits in on trumpet on two tracks, enlivening Murray's "Hong Kong Nights" and "Stressology" with strong brassy accents. Gilcrest is excellent throughout with a bright and strong tone. Drake, as always, is a joy mixing rhythm and pace, getting his own feature on the aptly named "Hamid's Time," composed by Singer. But the focus is really on the two saxophonists throughout, trading solos and ideas and sparking off of each other with ebullient energy and taste. Singer tends to reign in Murray's occasional over-exuberance, and Murray in turn challenges Singer to a high level. Classy photographs of the sessions and liner notes in English and French round out an excellent package.

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