Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Tenor man David Murray wins Guggenheims rather than MacArthurs. He isn't an innovator like Coleman or Coltrane. He lacks Wynton Marsalis's public command and Branford's pop connections. But whether founding the we-ain't-got-no-rhythm-section World Saxophone Quartet or backing Blood Ulmer's harmolodic jazz-rock, leading small group or octet or big band, doing solo recitals or session work, he's the most generous saxophone virtuoso since Sonny Rollins.

Aided by his hard-blowing role model Arthur Blythe, Murray the strong, adaptable sessioneer fires McCoy Tyner's 44th Street Suite (Red Baron). David Murray Big Band Conducted by Lawrence "Butch" Morris (DIW/Columbia) showcases his modernistic, tradition-drenched charts. Black and Black (Red Baron) is a wild, gutbucket, avant-garde quintet date. And the funkiest record he's ever made, Shakill's Warrior (DIW/Columbia), is also one of the most evocative.

The secret is the prodigiously fluent Don Pullen, featured not on piano but on the Hammond B-3 he's played for 20 years. Riding a straight-swinging guitar-and-drums groove, the two dig deep into the most declasse kind of organ jazz. The music partakes of all the style's thick sexuality and soused soul--both men clearly love this stuff. But at the same time it seems distanced, decentered, a little off, conjuring a time warp in which a smoky '60s taproom in Watts or Newark is transported not just to 1992 but to 2001--to some scary future whose strangeness seems more natural every day.


Fast Cuts: The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy: Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury (4th & B'way): rap avant-industrial, with politics that won't make you grit your teeth or love Bill Clinton. Dennis Alcapone: Forever Version (Heartbeat): Early sample king has fun with early reggae.

Playboy, Apr. 1992


Mar. 1992 May 1992