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David Murray: Long Goodbye

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When David Murray left AAA Oakland for the major leagues in the mid-’70s, he began recording at such a dizzying rate that many of his old fans lost track after a while, but I’ve always felt that “Flowers for Albert” was a standout among those early efforts. This new release is another tribute to an artist who passed on at a painfully young age, Don Pullen, and again Murray brings his best to bear. He is as comfortable in the role of seasoned veteran as he was as a young lion, more thoughtful but with an even greater command of the horn.

Particularly impressive is the way pianist D.D. Jackson stays true to Pullen’s approach without being imitative. Pullen seemed at times to focus on the thorniest aspects of the transitions from inside to out, and Murray and Jackson seem to revel in this difficult area. David remains one of the best at high-end free tenor blowing. It’s good to hear a young bassist with as much personality as Santi Debriano, and J. T. Lewis is a brilliantly understated drummer.

Four Pullen compositions are rounded out by two fine originals by Jackson and the evocative title track, from the pen of Murray’s old partner Butch Morris. This is an honest, gutsy record that does everyone proud.