Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

David Murray: Jug-a-Lug [DIW, 1995]
Recommended recent jazz titles by this endlessly resourceful if suspiciously prolific recording artist include the Malcolm tribute-quickie MX (Red Baron), stirred and soured by Bobby Bradford's cornet, Saxmen (Red Baron), which knocks back Young-Rollins-Parker-Rouse-Stitt-Coltrane standards guaranteed to knock new jazz fans out, and Special Quartet (DIW/Columbia), featuring McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones to guess what conceptual end (start with Rhino's Coltrane box and proceed). I can also dig Shakill's II (DIW import), a less audaciously greasy follow-up to his first Don Pullen-drenched avant-lounge organ outing. But more to the pop point is the leap he takes here and on The Tip, cut during the same four-day burst: a funk band, period, or do I mean question mark-explanation point?! Imperfect for sure, but although I'd prefer it didn't swing so much, in fact the full-bodied confidence of the only-jazz that begins this set gives it the edge over The Tip, which never equals the Sly Stone and David Murray classics it takes off from. The drag throughout is keybman Robert Irving III, whose adoration of Joe Zawinul almost transforms The Tip into the darn good Weather Report album Murray's damn lucky this one ain't. The motorvator is bass-whomping Darryl Jones, who is all over this record once it gets going--most spectacularly on the loosey-goosey bass-clarinet workout "Acoustic Octo Funk," where Irving has the common sense to imitate Pullen for a while. They should have made a single album out of all this--real pop pros know an an outtake when they hear one. But it frees both Branford Marsalis and Maceo Parker to go back where they came from. A-