It’s easy to talk about the way jazz developed in the 1970s and ’80s without mentioning saxophonist David Murray, and many have done it – it was a quicksilver time for the music, and there’s lots of ground to cover. But that would be an act of vast omission. Murray came to New York in 1975, when the loft jazz scene was spreading an ethos of self-sustainment and assertiveness throughout lower Manhattan, and quickly became a centerpiece of that world. He opened his own loft space, Studio Infinity, and became a founding member of the influential World Saxophone Quartet. He was a disciple of the shrieking, torrential saxophonist Albert Ayler, but in Murray’s wide wavelengths of vibrato and his fierce tone you can hear the entire lineage of saxophone protagonism that preceded him, from Coleman Hawkins through John Coltrane.
Here he performs in a duo with his often collaborator percussionist Kahil El’Zabar, leader of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and a onetime president of the AACM. El’Zabar is a polyglot on percussion, knowing more varied percussion and rhythmic techniques and styles than many members of the Foreign Service! From smooth South African grooves to mean street swings on the drum kit, El’Zabar brings a world-wearied, world traveled heart beat to whatever group he plays behind.