Murray & Creole II
Houston TX, 21 April 2002
Houston International Festival pays tribute to a different country
each year by featuring over a two-week period its art, music, dance,
and food at a sprawling downtown area. For 2002, France was the honored
country, so it seemed only fitting that expatriate and French-resident
David Murray would appear with his band of master Carib musicians
from the French controlled Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, where
Creole is spoken. Murray has been involved in many diverse projects
over his career ranging from the most intense free jazz to experimenting
with the music of The Grateful Dead. So, this latest endeavor to
promote the cultural heritage of this island where Columbus landed
in 1493 should come as no surprise.
band had as its central figure Guadeloupe vocal artist Guy Konket,
who is referred to as the James Brown of that country. With him were
percussion masters Klod Kiavue and Philip Macea, while US artists
Jaribu Shahid on bass and Pheeroan AkLaff on drums rounded out the
band. This set became a festival of rhythmic drive and intensity.
The percussionists meted out soul-drenched percussion fire while
Konket's highly infectious chanting became trance inducing. Murray
is able to meld his robust sound into any musical circumstance, so
his spirited blowing was a natural blend with the Afro-Caribbean
cries and rhythms from these Guadeloupe artists.
is a fascinating personality. With his lean, sinewy frame and the
look of wisdom in his ancient eyes, he proceeded to use repetitive
vocal calls to inspire the percussionists, who in turn affected the
American contingent in the band. The group often worked itself into
a frenzy of danceable rhythms inspired by the mesmerizing Creole
verse of Konket. Murray became one with the band, displaying his
noted fire by going on extended freeform blowing excursions while
percussive pulsations reverberated around the stage and directly
into one's soul. He also explored the bass clarinet to create yet
another spellbinding mood.
hour-plus set contained excellent improvising as well as rhythm-inspired
music. Shahid gave a solo bass recital of unusual beauty that introduced
yet another Konket original vocal call-and-response song. With Kiavue,
Macea, and AkLaff all pounding out the non-stop beat and Murray wailing
with all the fury in his body, it was impossible for anyone at the
outdoor venue to be still. Murray's soulful spirit rose to great
heights on many occasions while the band kept up the African-based
drive. Many in the packed audience danced in delight.
While this event at the massively attended festival attracted more
than just jazz enthusiasts, the spirit of the music affected everyone
within hearing range. It was a joyous occasion that left everyone
in an uplifted mood.