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David Murray Quartet 

Wednesday, March 29, at Nighttown.

Jazz has pace-setters and avant-gardists, both cheered and derided, yet many mellow with age while there's still fire down below. Tenor saxophonist David Murray is one such hepcat. Born in 1955, Murray cut his teeth in the West Coast and N.Y.C. "out" jazz scenes, and by the '80s became established as the firebrand saxophonist in the tradition of above-and-beyond innovators Albert Ayler (a major influence) and John Coltrane. But at the heart of Murray's approach were shades of swing/bebop-era masters Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, with a touch of raunchy R&B.

In the past decade or so, Murray's refined and mediated the passionate skronk of his youth, but he's still hot enough to dissolve Kenny G with a glance. Murray still seeks creative contexts, exemplified by the albums Dark Star: The Music of the Grateful Dead and his latest, Waltz Again, on which Murray's quartet is joined by a 10-piece string section for an all-originals program dedicated to the famous author of Abyssinian and Russian descent, Aleksandr Pushkin.

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