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David Murray Big Band: South of the Border

Too often, David Murray releases an album that suggests that he makes too many records. South of the Border isn’t one of them. On the contrary, this vibrantly Latin-tinged big band disc leaves you wanting more.

The album gets off to a fast start with Wayne Francis’ arrangement of Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas.” Francis’ darting lines, nasty smears, and knotty voices have plenty of muscle, giving the soloists-pianist Sonelius Smith, altoist James Spaulding, trombonist Frank Lacy, clarinetist Don Byron, and the tandem tenors of Murray and Patience Higgins-a boost at key points. The first half of the program also includes Francis’ finger-popping blues, “Happy Birthday Wayne, Jr.,” and “Calle Estrella,” a well-built vehicle for Latin groove-mining. He’s a big reason for the album’s success.

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