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The Sunny Murray Interview

"You have to be proud of having this history"

Sunny Murray, Gary Peacock, Albert Ayler, Don Cherry

The mother lode for devotees of the jazz avant-garde and outré music in general, Jason Weiss’ Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk’, the Most Outrageous Record Label in America is a collection of incisive Q&As with the principals and players behind the game-changing company founded by Bernard Stollman in 1964. Sonny Simmons, Roswell Rudd, Burton Greene, Milford Graves, Sirone and many other label-associated greats are interviewed, in addition to ESP admirers, like Roscoe Mitchell and Ken Vandermark, and musicians who’ve recorded for the label in recent years, such as Joe Morris.

But the most and best material comes from Stollman himself (who takes a beating throughout the other conversations, from artists still waiting for royalties). With impressively detailed recall, Stollman discusses sessions, artists, deals and conspiracies, and reveals tales that have nothing to do with free jazz but are fascinating nonetheless. Like the music he purveyed, Stollman’s stories are full of strangeness as well as lyricism. Following this issue’s drum theme, we present Weiss’ July 2009 interview with Sunny Murray.

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