Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Kahil El'Zabar & David Murray - We Is: Live at the Bop Shop (Delmark, 2004)

Tenor sax and bass clarinet hero David Murray and master percussionist Kahil El'Zabar have collaborated before in a variety of contexts, and this album finds them improvising live all by themselves. The opening "Groove Allure" is just like the name says with Murray taking an easy going groovin' solo over some hip sounding hand percussion from El'Zabar. Sounds like they should be providing the background for a beat poetry reading! "We Is" snaps us out of that reverie real quick... Murray breaks out a
stompin' free tenor solo, growing and squeaking to his hearts content - this is very exciting stuff. Not to be out done is El'Zabar, now manning a full drum set as he knocks out a killer drum solo.

On "Blues Affirmation" Murray goes way down in the alley on tenor saxophone, recalling some of his gospel and R&B roots with a massive slow grind solo. El'Zabar takes a very interesting mallet & vibes solo to take the performance into a different direction. "One World Family" finds Murray breaking out the big gun with a bass clarinet solo to open things up, getting a fascinating hollow and percussive sound from the instrument as El'Zabar scats a vocal chant extolling the virtues of peace and love. They wrap things up with "Sweet Meat" heading back into storming tenor saxophone and drumset duo improv. If you are a fan of either musician, this is a must as it's a classy performance all the way.

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