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Dave McMurray: Peace of Mind

In this era of posing, cold-playing saxophone idols, a soulful, swinging tenor or growling alto can be a revelation. Detroit’s Dave McMurray displays both of these tools and more on Peace of Mind (Hip Bop HIBD 8021; 70:37), combining retro-horn style with modern street beats and textures. Bob James adds some memory-lane Rhodes play to McMurray’s sly-hooking tenor on the hopping “My Brother and Me,” for example, while a strutting, lighthearted alto solo elevates the bristling beat-box rhythms of “Home (For My Mother),” lending a feeling of growth and renewal. McMurray’s rolling opening alto riffs on “1988” burst open into a bass-popping street scene filled with muscular, angled sax riffs, showing diversity and power. Even the album’s few disappointments, like the slick, cold-programmed sound of “For You,” are elevated by McMurray’s emotive approach (in this case a soulful, crying soprano). The album’s most memorable highlight is a surprising arrangement of “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore,” penned by the Artist formerly known as Prince. A hesitant acoustic piano setting sets an inspiring gospel-blue stage for McMurray to really swing out on tenor.

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