Down Beat - 6/00, pp.78-94.5 stars out of 5
- "...It's Murray's first direct encounter with John Coltrane's music; typically he sounds like no one but himself..."
David Murray Octet: David Murray (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet); James Spaulding (alto saxophone, flute); Ravi Best, Rasul Siddik (trumpet); Craig Harris (trombone); D.D. Jackson (piano); Jaribu Shahid (bass); Mark Johnson (drums).
Recorded at Sound On Sound Studios, New York, New York on April 20 and May 1, 1999. Includes liner notes by Nat Hentoff.
Personnel: David Murray (bass clarinet, tenor saxophone); James Spaulding (flute, alto saxophone); Ravi Best, Rasul Siddik (trumpet); Craig Harris (trombone); D.D. Jackson (piano); Mark Johnson (drums).
Audio Mixer: Jon Rosenberg.
Recording information: Sound On Sound Studios, New Yor (04/30/1999-05/??/1999).
Editor: Ian Terry.
Photographers: Guy Lequerrec; Jim West.
Tenor saxophonist David Murray and his octet rise to the challenge of performing five classic John Coltrane compositions not by playing note-for-note recreations but by allowing Trane's searching spirit to dominate the proceedings. Murray shines on all tracks, switching between tenor and bass clarinet. The octet featuring pianist D.D. Jackson, trombonist Craig Harris, trumpeters Ravi Best and Rasul Siddik, alto saxophonist and flutist James Spaulding, bassist Jaribu Shahid, and drummer Mark Johnson sound like twice the number of musicians throughout this disc. This is especially true on the raucous big band versions of "Giant Steps" and "Lazy Bird." However, they can achieve a complete turnaround when playing the ballad "Naima" or "India," which becomes an ethereal, haunting mix (complete with tabla) sounding more like electric period Miles Davis unplugged than Coltrane's arrangement. Murray's "The Crossing" is a bit of a puzzling inclusion, since it is the only non-Trane composition performed, somewhat defeating the intention of the disc. The proceedings wind down with an engaging 15-minute version of "A Love Supreme: Part 1: Acknowledgment" proving Murray has studied not only the music of John Coltrane, but like him insists on applying his individuality through his horn. ~ Al Campbell