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David Murray

Lucky Four

Pure Pleasure

enja 9186

LP Black $50
  • Re-mastering by: Cicely Baston at Alchemy/Air Mastering
  • Produced by Horst Weber
  • Engineer – Willy Schmidt
  • Recorded Trixi Studio, Munich, September 25th, 1988


Not many jazz saxophone players bring most of the landmark stages of the instrument’s evolution together in an on-the-fly improvisational setting without it sounding like musical tourism. Sonny Rollins and Joe Lovano are leading examples, and so is the majestic David Murray, who whirls up from romantic Ben Webster-like smoke-rings to vocalised free-jazz wails without dropping a stitch here. Murray is nowadays often to be found either paying creative tributes to John Coltrane, or making a ruggedly vivacious world music with non-jazz players from Morocco and elsewhere. But this reissued 1988 set represents Murray at his most accessible. From the opening Valley Talk, with its intensifying showers of tenor-sax notes over a sultry tango, through the bluesy saunter of Chazz to the novelty song for Jean Michel Basquiat that becomes a brooding blues, the music is strong, sensuous, and effortlessly masterly in the way its varied materials are juggled. It would make a fine Murray primer for newcomers.

Lucky Four is a smooth and luscious quartet date with Murray in the company of longtime associate Dave Burrell, bassist Wilber Morris, and drummer Victor Lewis. With the exception of a short piece by his manager Kunle Mwanga, all of the pieces are by either Burrell or Morris, and most of them are gems. Sinuous and bluesy, with a rich interplay of rhythms and melodies, they are the ideal platform for a soloist like Murray: grounded enough to keep him from straying too far but deep enough for him to find plenty of goodies to unearth. Morris’ “Chazz,” dedicated to Charles Mingus, recalls the master with accuracy and affection, giving Murray a shot to wield his bass clarinet in homage to Dolphy and allowing the composer his own heartfelt homage. The highlight of the session is Burrell’s wonderful composition, “Abel’s Blissed Out Blues,” a piece Murray would record often and an extremely infectious number. It begins with a moody, slow section and launches into an exuberant two-step that catapults Murray skyward with the rhythm section rocking away beneath. Two songs are given the repeat treatment, and they’re enjoyable enough to make the exercise worthwhile. The late ‘80s produced some of Murray’s strongest work in the quartet format, and Lucky Four fits in quite comfortably. Recommended.

Preview Tracklist

  • 1 Valley Talk
  • 2 Chazz (for Charles Mingus)
  • 3 As I Woke
  • 4 Strollin’ (for Jean Michel Basquiat)
  • 5 Abel’s Blissed Out Blues
  • 6 Sharing