36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022

David Murray Black Saint Quartet

David Murray Black Saint Quartet (USA):

David Murray - ts, bcl;
Lafayette Gilchrist - p;
Jaribu Shahid - db;
Malik Washington - dr.

David Murray (b. 1955), a saxophonist, clarinettist, bandleader and composer, is a leading light on the New York jazz scene.

David Murray’s awards include a Grammy (1982), the Bird Award (1986), the Danish Jazzpar Prize (1991), Ralph J. Simon Rex Award (1995), Village Voice musician of the decade (1980s), Newsday musician of the year (1930), and personality of the Guinness Jazz festival (Ireland, 1994). Two documentaries have been made about Murray’s life: “Speaking in Tongues” (1982) and “Jazzman”, nominated at the Baltimore Film Festival (1999).

Already at the beginning of his career Murray acquired a reputation as a potential great. His musical personality was formed by jazz, blues and gospel. In his youth, Murray played music in church with his parents and two brothers, and studied music with his mother, an organist.

However, Murray’s ideals changed before long. He attended Pomona College, where he studied with trumpeter Bobby Bradford, a former Ornette Coleman sideman. Around this time, he met the writer Stanley Crouch, who became his unofficial publicity agent.

After settling in New York in 1975, Murray followed the footsteps of Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp, the harbingers of free jazz. He had a penchant for multiphonics, distorted timbres, extremes of volume, and forays into the horn’s uppermost reaches and beyond.

In New York, Murray and Crouch opened Studio Infinity, which became a laboratory for the saxophonist’s experiments. The city was also a source of new encounters: Sunny Murray, Oliver Lake, Don Cherry, Lester Bowie and Frank Lowe among other jazz grands. Cecil Taylor along with Dewey Redman, gave the young musician the encouragement he needed.

In 1976, Murray set up the World Saxophone Quartet with Oliver Lake, Hamiet Bluiett and Julius Hemphill. This marked the beginning of an intensely creative time with an endless permutation of formations. Murray set up his own quartet, then octet and finally his quintet. From this time on he focused more on his own ensembles, although he also has worked with other musicians from drums from Guadeloupe to South African dancers and musicians.

At the end of the 90s, Murray has been frequently associated with fusion, world music and even pan-Africanism.

In 33 years, the musician has recorded over 130 albums – probably no contemporary jazz musician has led more dates on more labels.

Murray’s latest album “Sacred Ground”, recorded with Cassandra Wilson and the Black Saint Quartet, was released last year. He has decided to revive the Quartet, which has already existed for more than twenty years and recorded for an Italian label, Black Saint. Here the saxophonist recorded seventeen albums with the World Saxophone Quartet, Randy Weston, Dave Burell, Lawrence “Butch” Morris, Olu Dara, Anthony Davis, Craig Harris, John Hicks, James “Blood” Ulmer, Don Pullen, Steve Coleman and many others.

The Black Saint Quartet revisits its old repertoire and performs new compositions. This is jazz built up on its old traditional roots, but also open to new and polyrhythmic jazz.

In the 80s, Murray began relying more on the standard jazz repertoire, which he plays with a wide vibrato, reminiscent of such swing-era greats as Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins, and Eric Dolphy’ish improvisations. With years, Murray’s attention to the craft of playing the horn has increased.

Lafayette Gilchrist replaced late John Hicks, the pianist of the Black Saint Quartet.

The young Baltimore-based musician started playing piano at the age eighteen. In his childhood he was more a fan of hard funk, progressive hip-hop and go-go, than jazz.

Gilchrist’s The New Volcanoes draws inspiration exactly from this music. The pianist has worked with this group for five years. It has debuted with “The Music According to Lafayette Gilchrist”, and in September paid homage to soul power with “Soul Progressin”, its fourth release. The pianist has also recorded with Basement Boys, Baltimore house music group.

On jazz scene, Gilchrist follows the hip-hop experiments of Matthew Shipp and Jason Moran. He also has been compared to Andrew Hill and Sun Ra. According to critics, this is the pianist whose fingertips combine both jazz past and future.

Double bassist Jaribu Shahid’s biography is imprinted with numerous names of free jazz coryphées.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, he was raised in a diverse musical climate, playing with local luminaries such as Kenn Cox, Wendell Harrison, Jimmy Wilkins, J.C. Heard, and others. Principally self-taught, Jaribu’s training began in the band of friend Kamau Kenyatta and bass studies with Bob Collins.

Around 1975, he was mentored by Faruq Z. Bey and joined the sci-fi band Griot Galaxy, greatly influenced by Sun Ra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. In 1978, he moved to Philadelphia and lived with the core of the Sun Ra Arkestra with whom he played intermittently until the passing of its leader.

In 1979, he had his first opportunity to work with Roscoe Mitchell. This led to his career-long involvement with Roscoe in the Roscoe Mitchell Sound Ensemble and, currently, the Roscoe Mitchell Note Factory. In recent years, Shahid has been a member of various groups led by saxophonist David Murray and the Freedom Arts Quartet.

Shahid has recorded with Sun Ra, Roscoe Mitchell, James Carter, David Murray, Geri Allen, Rod Williams, Craig Taborn, Hugh Ragin, Abdoulaye Ndiaye and Blue Dog. After Malachi Favors’ passing, he was invited to perform with the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

The New York-based drummer Malik Washington is a freelance musician. He has drummed since he was three, later studied with Dennis Davis, Mark Johnson, Kenwood Dennard, Warren Smith and Bob Steward.

Recently, he has been enjoying invitations to give workshops in various jazz symposiums and conferences.

The drummer has collaborated with Olu Dara, Marcus Belgrave, Larry Ridley, Akil Desaan, Newyorican Poetry Slam All-Stars, Soul Squad and Franck Lacy, recorded with Harlem Art Ensemble.

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