08 July 2022

Tenor of our times

Murray Jackson plays alto but had time during Covid to explore the tenor sax and we saw the outcome the other night at a Geoff's jazz night at Smiths.  It was a very satisfying night of playing.  Mostly post-bop-sum-hard-bop field, so tunes by Murray and Aussies Bernie McGann and Dale Barlow, but also the internationals Jackie McLean, Donald Bird, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver and Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael as somewhat an outlier.  I was particularly taken by Nica's dream by Horace Silver with Murray playing Hank Mobley (or Junior Cook?) on harmony with the melody on piano (the original has trumpet playing the melody).  That was a particularly fascinating line and a pleasure to hear so clearly live.  Murray has studied well.  There's a clarity and purposefulness in all his playing, clearly from a good listener and plenty of transcriptions.  The whole band was pretty much that way, too, clear and expressive.  I enjoyed Wilbur Whitta's plain-talking lines and Tim Geldens spelling the rhythmic bass and especially Brendan Clarke's sometimes deliriously fluid solos, but then I'm a bassist and I admire Brendan's playing.  There was directness in this integrity and restraint, not to suggest it was easy to play because lots wasn't, but you didn't feel the richness and history and admiration that underlaid this presentation.  Murray mentioned the good sound of the room, too, both acoustics and Bevan's sound and that only helped this sense of clarity.  And it was Murray's first outing on tenor, I think.  One other thing to note: Wilbur Murray and Brendan are all products of our local jazz school, presumably from its early days at Manuka, so nice returns.  Very much enjoyed.

Murray Jackson (tenor) led a quartet with Wilbur Whitta (piano), Brendan Clarke (bass) and Tim Geldens (drums) at Smiths.

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