David Murray with Dave Burrell: Windward Passages

Gifted reedman David Murray is a provocative improviser whose warmth, passion and facile technique coaxes the most from his instruments. On this 1993 date, he plays tenor sax (bass clarinet on one track) with pianist Dave Burrell, a long-time cohort with similar penchant for creating exciting leaps of virtuosity. Familiarity breeds better music, and contributes to make this intimate duo recording a compelling listen. Both players have separately shown abilities to wax lyrical, subtly mine the blues, and stretch beyond the outer edges of melody. Together, they’re unmatchable. Murray’s conversational style, expertly comped by Burrell, ranges from caressing to blistery and powerful. Burrell’s improvisations, sometimes influenced by a Pullen-like percussive approach, add variety to the melodiousness of this outing comprising three standards and five originals. Some tracks are reminiscent of roiling duo explorations of the late Pullen and Adams, and it’s enthralling to hear that tradition continue. While Burrell excels, it’s Murray’s instantly-recognizable, thrusting, and bristly style that prevails on this A-plus album.