25 January 2009

David Murray Big Band feat. James Newton plays 'The Obscure Works of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn'

David Murray Big Band featuring James Newton plays 'The Obscure Works of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn'
Jazzfest ñ Haus der Kulturen der Welt, November 7th 1998.

African Flower 19:03
Such Sweet Thunder 7:53
Chelsea Bridge 7:36
Love You Madly 7:51
Bloodcount 6:18
Wig Wise 11:11
Praise God 4:21
Warm Valley 12:10
Blue Pepper (Far East Of The Blues) 6:02

Carmen Bradford (vocals)
David Murray (tenor sax, bass clarinet, conductor)
Ricky Ford (tenor sax)
James Newton (flute, conductor)
James Spaulding (alto sax, flute)
John Purcell (saxello, clarinet)
Pablo Calogero (baritone sax)
Craig Harris (trombone)
Frank Lacy (trombone)
Gary Valente (trombone)
Ravi Best (trumpet)
Hugh Ragin (trumpet)
DD Jackson (piano)
Jeff Chambers (bass)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)
Klod Kiavue (percussion)

"James Newton and myself are interested in bringing to light some of Ellington's obscure extended works, while at the same time realizing Billy Strayhorn's influence on Ellington and unveiling the uniqueness of their collaboration" David Murray (http://www.festwochen.de/jazzfest/2002/archiv/jazzfest98.html)

I am in debt to LYM for a copy of the recording.

The first indication of Murray's interest in Ellington in the former's recordings came when Come Sunday appeared on one of the the saxophonist's solo albums, Conceptual Saxophone, in 1978. Given Murray's gospel background the choice may have been connected to the opportunity that the theme gave to Murray to explore his interest in the ecstatic.

There are, though, indications that Murray's interest in Ellington preceded this recording, and goes someway back into Murray's musical origins. Murray grew up in California, and studied on Stanley Crouch’s Black Studies programme at Pomono College and, according to Brian Case's sleeve notes to Conceptual Saxophone, Murray originally came to New York on a research trip for a thesis on Jazz saxophone. According to an interview in the Washington Post with Hollie I West he says specifically the paper was on changes in Saxophone playing since 1959. Case’s sleeve notes also cite Murray’s interest in Paul Gonsalves – Ellington’s long time tenor player – as an influence, and Gonsalves would certainly have been one of the key players in influencing post-1959 players. Many of Murray's later works signaled an interest in Gonsalves, Murray even gave a composition on his 1991 big band recording the title 'Paul Gonsalves'.

Murray went on to record 13 Ellington and seven Billy Strayhorn compositions with his own bands or the WSQ, and many more pieces from the Ellington band book. 'In A Sentimental Mood' gets four outings with different bands. Gary Giddins has suggested other Gonsalves-inspired thinking beyond the debt in muscular tone, when he notes that Murray's solo on Ellington's 'Take the Coltrane' is 27 choruses long, the same length as Gonsalves' solo insertion in the famous Newport performance of 'Diminuendo and Cresendo in Blue'.

Murray also seems to owe a debt to Ellington in his bag band work. Although large ensembles had been a key feature of the California new jazz scene in the early 1970s, and many of Murray's earliest New York appearances were in large bands, his big band recordings always seem (to me at least) to have much of the majesty of Ellington's classic performances.

In this context it's not surprising that Murray would get round to a detailed investigation of the Ellington oeuvre. And this is it: 'The Obscure Works of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn'

I'm not sure why Murray titled the whole performance 'The Obscure Works' because most of the compositions will be well known to Ellington fans, and a number have standard status. This project has clearly been in development for some time, and Murray used the basic idea many times. Giddins refers to a performance of the project in 1997 in Paris with big band plus string orchestra. He also suggested that the concert was recorded, edited and released in 1998, but I haven't been able to track down a copy, let alone another mention of the record. Giddins doesn't give a recording label, like he does for every record release in the book, so I'm even less sure how to find it (if it exists). There is clearly a recording, though because Giddins discusses it over several pages of the book. The band and set seem to be very similar as this one.

The project had several performances including:

Paris 1997
Carmen Bradford (vocals)
David Murray (tenor sax, bass clarinet, conductor)
Ricky Ford (tenor sax)
Hamiet Bluiett (sax)
Arthur Blythe (sax)
James Newton (flute, conductor)
James Spaulding (alto sax, flute)
John Purcell (saxello, clarinet)
Charles Ownes (sax)
Craig Harris (trombone)
George Lewis (trombone)
Ray Anderson (trombone)
Bobby Bradford (trumpet)
DD Jackson (piano)
Art Davis (bass)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)


JazzFest Berlin 98, Saturday 7th November 10:30 pm Auditorium
Carmen Bradford (vocals)
David Murray (tenor sax, bass clarinet, conductor)
Ricky Ford (tenor sax)
James Newton (flute, conductor)
James Spaulding (alto sax, flute)
John Purcell (saxello, clarinet)
Pablo Calogero (baritone sax)
Craig Harris (trombone)
Joe Bowie (trombone)
Gary Valente (trombone)
Bobby Bradford (trumpet)
Ravi Best (trumpet)
Hugh Ragin (trumpet)
DD Jackson (piano)
Art Davis (bass)
Andrew Cyrille (drums)
Klod Kiavue (percussion)


Brecon Jazz Festival, August 1999
Hugh Ragin
Rassul Siddik,
Nathan Breedlove (t)
Craig Harris
Gary Valente
Joe Bowie (tb)
James Newton
John Purcell
James Spaulding
Ricky Ford
Hammiet Bluiett (rds)
Hilton Ruiz (p)
Jaribu
Shahid (b)
Andrew Cyrille (d)
Klod Kiavue (perc)
Carmen Bradford (vo)

A scaled down version of this group played the North Sea Jazz Festival in July 1999 consisting of Murray with, Ragin, Harris, Newton, Purcell, Bluiett, Ruiz, Shahid and Cyrille and possibly one other (http://johnjazz.homestead.com/davidmurray.html).

I would be very interested to find out any further information, hear other performances of the project, and track down a copy of the record Giddins mentions.

25 comments:

Wallofsound said...

No flacs for this one, I'm afraid.

http://rapidshare.com/files/187378461/Plays_The_Obscure_Works.part1.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/187375014/Plays_The_Obscure_Works.part2.rar

Thanks to LYM for a copy of the recording, and to Alexander for setting me off on the journey to find a recording and information on the project.

LYM said...

@wallofsound and anyone interested in

Sometimes (many times?) things in life go strange. We try with our strenght to make them go where we want (or we think they must go)...and suddenly they overflow their banks! Almost criptical bleah.
Just to say thanks to wallofsound.
Track 06 reported as untitled is Wig Wise included in the "Money Jungle" Ellington/Mingus/Roach trio album.
I've began searching for the title of this one "unknown" and at the end of some tracks You can hear the announcemente of the following. At the end of track 5 Bloodcount You can clearly hear Money Jungle. So I listened to the title track of the mentioned album but it wasn't the same composition. Goin' on searchin'I've found the righ title...and some more!
Would You Please WoS right me here a_gaggero@alice.it as soon as possible? Good news for YOur post.

See YOU. :-) LYM

LYM said...

@ WoS *write (not right).

A foundamental place for any Ellington fan, or searcher:

http://www.depanorama.net/
here You can find the DEMS bullettin in PDF format with any information about every new searche about the Duke, new books, recording, corrections and adds to discographical studies.

See YOU. :-) LYM

Wallofsound said...

Thanks for the title information, LYM. You are indeed right, it is 'Wig Wise' I've altered the post.

I knew I knew the theme, but couldn't place it. Funnily enough I followed the Money Jungle clue, but only listened to the title track, and not being able to hear any melodic similarity, I thought that was a red herring (as we say in England).

emelt said...

James Newton released an album on Blue Note in the 80's with similar material: http://www.amazon.com/African-Flower-James-Newton/dp/B000008BW4

BlindWilliam said...

This one's a stunna. Thanks for upping it.

P E A C E

bw

matt w said...

Thanks for upping this!

The stripped-down version of this band played at the Mellon Jazz Festival in Pittsburgh and the Discover Jazz festival in Burlington, VT as well; I don't know what other tour dates they had.

Another good place to hear Murray's Ellington influence is "Train Whistle" on his New Life Octet album -- definitely heavily influenced by Ellington's train pieces.

jazzme said...

If you like Kaoru Abe check this out Masayoshi Urabe pfsd - 81 http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=00bb25726436bb1e91b20cc0d07ba4d2574b1d4000654d57

kingpossum said...

Terrific, thank you. A great composer interpreted by a great adventurist.

And thank you to the commenters for the additional links of interest.

il angelo said...

Thanks Wall of Sound, The same version of the band played at Teatro Central in Seville (Spain), if interested I can look up for the exact date and line-up. Art Davis was definitely on the bass. I remember the concert vividly

il angelo said...

Hi WallofSound,
I have checked with a good friend who was in charge of the tour in Spain and he assures me that a live recording exists, recorded in Paris, with Fontella Bass and, yes strings.
Will come back with more info.
Cheers

ghostrancedance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ghostrancedance said...

Thanks to both of you for this share.

I was at the Discover Jazz Festival concert that matt w mentioned. A great, great show!

ghostrancedance said...

P.S.

I believe that the recording Giddins mentions was sold as an audiocassette on that tour. I have a copy floating around here somewhere. I'll take a look and see if I can locate it. Not sure that I have the technology (or the know-how) to transfer it to digital format... No guarantees, but I'll take a look. And thanks again!

ghostrancedance said...

P.P.S.

I found it! It was released on 3D Family and includes a French e-mail address for Murray on the box. I have no idea whether it ever came out on LP or CD...

david said...

Thanks for this. David Murray has become one of my favorites since that Flowers for Albert post late last year.

Wallofsound said...

LYM's earlier cryptic comment is now explained!

He's found a flac version of a different edit of this concert.

http://www.mediafire.com/file/t2zumz0za4l
http://www.mediafire.com/file/uy4zyyr502t
http://www.mediafire.com/file/jwg4n0oxwzh
http://www.mediafire.com/file/nmyznlyxmn0
http://www.mediafire.com/file/jgoznoojxy2
http://www.mediafire.com/file/4zznfmzzucn

Thanks to the original seeder, and to LYM who went to the trouble of uploading them for me (and now you). LYM's a great Ellington fan (LYM = Love You Madly), so if we could find some obscure Ellingtonia to say thanks, that would be great. I hope my emails got through, LYM; if not would you contact me again.

The sound on this edit is far superior. The new version also has the band introductions which clear up details of the line-up, and it is credited as the Berlin date. I'd originally though it was, but the line-up published online from the concert hall was different. Murray's introduction explains the change from the advertised band.

Thanks to all who contributed concert dates, I'll try and compile them into list.

Jean K said...

Beautiful - thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a-plenty!

lee said...

I've had an iffy sound quality tape for years that my buddy got from Mr Murray. I have always wanted to hear a better recording. You are very appreciated. Thank you. This to me is one of those lump in throat producing perfect jazz events. Thank you Duke, David, Butch, and France for having such great respect.

Anonymous said...

Wallofsound,

unfortunately, LYM's links to mediafire are no longer available...

jb said...

Tasty. Thank you.

John A. said...

Just found this, though I have visited your blog many times. Real sweet. Thanx so much for sharing.

Andy said...

Thanks Wall. This sounds nice. I'm in Warwick

francisco santos said...

re post, please....
THX!...