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Overdue Ovation: Dave Burrell

The Art of War

Dave Burrell

Before sitting down at the piano in a small room at Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum & Library in January, Dave Burrell instructed the intimate crowd to “picture me as an elder telling a story to the extended community.”

The request was not a difficult one to fulfill. Anytime Burrell, 71, begins to play, the result combines history, gravity, raw emotion and sage wisdom. A veteran of the 1960s and ’70s avant-garde Loft scene who played extensively with the likes of Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders and Marion Brown, Burrell has enjoyed a career renaissance over the past decade. To hear him today is to experience a singular sound that reaches back from the hard-edged attack of his free playing to ragtime and stride approaches.

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