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David Murray – I am a Jazzman September 7, 2009

Posted by wallofsound in Uncategorized.
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David Murray - I Am a Jazzman

David Murray – I am a Jazzman
Jacques Denis & Jacques Goldstein – 2008

Screened on ARTE at 22.20 PM (Paris time) August 31, 2009 Details (in French) are here.

This is a fascinating fifty-five minute programme. Made in France where Murray now lives, there’s a French voice-over but most of the talking is in English with French subtitles.

It shows Murray in a number of contexts, Murray gets to communicate some of his ideas in words as a well as music, and we get something of his personal history.

Like most music documentaries it’s a montage of new footage, voice-over and interviews, clips from earlier Murray filming and some recorded music for soundtrack.

If you know something of Murray’s personal background you’ll find Murray’s journey back ‘home’ to California and the home movies fascinating, but oh too short. The footage of Murray in church as a young man, and playing with his father on guitar, was just wonderful. From here he goes back to the New York loft scene and we get some footage of Murray with Milford Graves from the late 1970s. There are extracts from the filming of Murray’s Sacred Ground, and he even goes back to the Hudson River to the place Albert Ayler drowned (although the voice-over doesn’t say so!). Then a statement from Murray that he needed to move from New York to extend his musical horizons.

Stanley Crouch, who was one of Murray’s earliest boosters back when he ran a jazz loft, says a few of his over-generalised, but supportive, points, and Murray meets up with first Black Panther Bobby Seale and then Amiri Baraka (who Murray recorded with in the 1970s) to discuss the place of jazz in American culture.

Murray’s walk on the banks of the Hudson is then paralleled with Murray walking on the coast of Guadeloupe where he talks about black musical cultural identity. We visit a slave processing centre, repeating Murray’s experience of visiting West Africa in the 1980s. This establishes the programme’s thesis: Murray is looking for the true black musical experience as he threw off his desire to be a jazz star.

The programme’s short extracts from concert performances are intriguing: there’s the Coltrane Murray; the James Brown Murray; the loft Murray, the Guadeloupe Afro-Murray. We get the biggest chunks of the latter, but in the interspersed comments Murray talks about how important black jazz history is to him. We also get some insights into various parts of Murray’s most recent work with the Gwo Ka Masters, Ishmael Reed and Amiri Baraka.

As a few readers of this blog will know I am a bit of a Murray fanatic, and over the years I’ve managed to collect his whole recorded output, but I’ve been able to get very few examples of David Murray on video. Other suggestions on what is out there greatly appreciated.

You can read more about David Murray elsewhere at wallofsound

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