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Specialty: Jazz

Specialty: Jazz — Gary Giddins reviews new albums from David Murray, Erica Lindsey, and Miles Davis

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Specialty: Jazz

David Murray
I Want to Talk to You
The belated release of this 1986 quartet session documents the cunning interaction between Murray — the premier young tenor saxophonist of the past decade-and pianist John Hicks in a typical late-’80s nightclub set (recorded live in Boston). The program touches on styles that figure in Murray’s emphatically personal vision, beginning with Hicks’ ”Heart to Heart,” a ballad that sounds as if it might have been written by a seasoned resident of Tin Pan Alley. The title song is generally identified with John Coltrane, who learned it from Billy Eckstine, but Murray freshens it in a leisurely, inventive reading. For balance, ”Red Car” is a flat-out rocker in the ”Night Train” mold — Murray switches to bass clarinet to provide a spartan vamp for his knotty variations — and ”Morning Song” is soul-jazz with a gospel pedigree. A-

Art Blakey, Dr. John, David ”Fathead” Newman
Bluesiana Triangle
Keep it simple — that’s the secret behind this unadorned frolic. The music is basic: a chain-gang song with numerous verses (”Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me”), a spiritual (Dr. John’s attractive minor-key variation on ”The Saints,” with a wailing Fathead alto sax solo), and three 12-bar blues. Doc does most of the singing and slips and slides over the piano keys; Fathead, who was Ray Charles’ most celebrated bandmate, switches between alto and tenor saxes and flute. The unexpected payoff comes when Blakey, the master drummer, sits down at the piano and sings the pop classic ”For All We Know.” His voice is a croak, his vibrato wobbles shamelessly, and his last note never quite finds its mark, but he sustains a lazily swinging backbeat groove that’s hard to resist. B+

Howard Alden
Snowy Morning Blues
Alden is a bright and anomalous young guitarist who plays as though Jimi Hendrix and Pat Metheny had never been born. His approach — lyric, precise, sure — is rooted in the crossroads between swing and bop, but his taste in songs is as modern as the current jazz repertory movement. It runs from James P. Johnson to Thelonious Monk, with telling side trips to the more arcane wonders of Duke Ellington, including the haunting ”Le Sucrier Velour,” from Ellington’s The Queen’s Suite. The disarming, reserved quality of Alden’s solos is nicely offset by the bustle of pianist Monty Alexander (especially on a surprisingly incisive ”Sleepy Time Gal”). Still, except for ”I’m Through With Love,” which is a bit hackneyed, it’s the savvy material that raises this session above the norm. B

Eric Lindsay
Lindsay’s tenor sax was first heard on the New York scene a decade ago, but she never recorded an album until now. She manages to compel interest without a huge sound or virtuoso dazzle. Her style is pensive, even dark, and she can sketch evocative melodies with a handful of notes. She’s also an effective bandleader, working within an ensemble style that has its origin in ’50s hard bop. All the selections — except ”Day Dream,” written by Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, and J.J. LaTouche — are originals. The versatile Howard Johnson provides winning support, especially with his tuba playing on ”First Movement.” B

Miles Davis
Filles De Kilimanjaro
This transitional 1968 quintet recording is one of the most satisfying albums Davis made before dashing headlong into fusion. Electric pianos pulsate, cymbals clatter, and Davis and saxophonist Wayne Shorter wend their way through serpentine melodies. Much credit for the sustained mystic moodiness should go to the arranging of Gil Evans, which was unacknowledged on the original release and continues to go unmentioned on the rerelease. The new digital mix increases the menacing drama, and Tony Williams’ encroaching drums never sounded better. A-