January 2005

Mike Murley / David Braid Quartet
January 11 – 15, 2005 Montréal Bistro Toronto

Last night at the Montréal Bistro was the second time I’ve heard the Mike Murley Quartet, co-lead by pianist David Braid, and here are my highlights. Mike, who alternates numbers on soprano and tenor saxes, provides the raw, questing passion, and David is the cool, logical one who constructs the architecture of the progressions. Jim Vivian, whose bass happens to have the loveliest of tones, echoes the lyricism that is strong in both leaders. Ian Froman, on drums, tends to be boisterous when Mike goes wild, as in their first number, “You’re my Everything” (Dixon, Young and Warren, 1931), but he can maintain the needed delicacy of touch on cymbal and snare, as he does at the end of David’s exquisite “Memnosyne’s March.”

Both co-leaders have other bands for which they compose: David has a sextet and Mike a quintet. The quartet, as they explained last night, is a vehicle for both of their work. So after a slightly boisterous version of Coltrane’s lovely and gentle “Giant Steps,” Mike took up his tenor and they played the title tune from the quintet’s latest CD, Extra Time, — the ‘extra’ time referring to the 5 bar phrases. This tune has a very nice two bar theme that gets repeated a lot with pleasurable effect.

The next tune, the aforementioned “Memnosyne’s March,” from David’s new CD, Vivid, begins with the drummer silent, and Jim Vivian bowing solo, a wistful, nostalgic melody that sings with the voice of a cello for several bars. David’s piano begins building quiet chords behind the bass, then Mike takes over on soprano sax, repeating the phrases of the theme, with Ian’s cymbal ticking along over a purr of snare rolls. Jim plays his bass pizzicato in harmony to Mike’s melody, extending into a bass solo of lovely, clear, caramel tones, then hands the melody back to Mike for the close.

There was a table of teenage music students who drove the 3 1/2 hours down from Huntsville to hear the Quartet. David Clayton Thomas, Doug Riley and T.O Jazz Festival Producer Patrick Taylor also came out. A fine night! We are looking out for the first Murley/Braid Quartet CD.

Report and Photographs by Stanley Fefferman
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