David Murray/Brad Jones/Hamid Drake

Seriana Promethea
(Intakt)

In 2017, when interviewed by Paul Devlin for Ethan Iverson’s Do The M@th website, David Murray observed the way age changes a tenor saxophonist’s playing.

“We tend to play fewer notes, but with more authority,” he said. “We play the truer tones.” While he often plays with economy and acuity on Seriana Promethea, he can still blow dense and hard with unassailable fluency.

This group, which Murray calls his Brave New World Trio, is a COVID-era creation. He first played with the fearlessly flexible rhythm section of bassist Brad Jones (Muhal Richard Abrams, the Jazz Passengers, James Brandon Lewis Quartet) and drummer Hamid Drake (Archie Shepp, William Parker, Peter Brötzmann) in Italy in November 2020. After touring throughout Europe, they recorded this session exactly one year later. They sound simultaneously fresh and deeply acquainted with each other.

The concept of freedom expressed here involves drawing freely from myriad styles, minting them into music that is both uncompromisingly rigorous and directly communicative. He plumbs the microtonal blues for patiently articulated truths on “Metouka Sheli,” and derives intricate, rhapsodic variations from the boldly tender theme of “Rainbows For Julia.” Then, he takes a dizzying, high-register tightrope stroll over an intoxicating Caribbean rhythm on “Switchin’ In The Kitchen.” And on the record’s sole non-original, Sly Stone’s “If You Want Me To Stay,” Murray’s gruff, interval-leaping explorations never compromise the tune’s funky groove.