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David Murray Quartet: Seasons

Ubiquitous tower of power David Murray has recorded with practically everyone on the planet…except these guys. Sir Roland Hanna, Richard Davis and Victor Lewis provide the tenor titan with a different kind of rhythm section than he’s normally accostumed to. On this set of balladic standards-gems like Frank Loesser’s “Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year” (a brilliant bass clarinet showcase), a swinging take on Richard Rodgers’ “Spring Is Here,” a sprightly bossa nova rendition of Vernon Duke’s “Autumn In New York,” and Sammy Cahn’s “Let It Snow”-they provide empathetic, at times fragile accompaniment. The net effect is to reign in Murray’s audacious power a bit, though he can hardly help himself from occasional fits of double timing and circular breathing. It’s kind of like asking Nolan Ryan (Am I dating myself here?) to take the mound in an underhand slow-pitch softball game.

Still, Murray has great capacity for lyrical playing, as he so soulfully demonstrates on the Hanna-penned title track and on Michel Legrand’s melancholy “The Summer Knows.” His love of Ben Webster comes across on a fairly straightforward, easy-swinging rendition of Victor Herbert’s “Indian Summer” and on a poignant take on Kurt Weill’s “September Song,” which also features some superb arco playing at the intro by Davis. He brandishes the bass clarinet once again on a lovely rendition of Claude Thornhill’s evocative “Snowfall.”

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