David Murray & the Gwo-Ka Masters | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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David Murray & the Gwo-Ka Masters


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Since the late 90s jazz heavy David Murray has found an especially effective backing for his soul-searing improvisations on tenor sax and bass clarinet, working with musicians from Senegal and Guadeloupe as part of a bracing exploration of African diasporic fusion. On his new album, Gwotet (Justin Time), he's paired again with Klod Kiavue and Francois Ladrezeau, a pair of killer Caribbean percussionists (gwo-ka are island drums) who craft an irresistible bed of dense polyrhythms and vocal chants for his high-flying solos. While the project's first album, Yonn-De (2002), found Murray set against mostly lean grooves, the new album raises the temperature significantly with a raft of hornmen playing charts that wouldn't sound out of place on records by James Brown or P-Funk. Few saxophonists work the tenor's upper range with Murray's facility and agility, and here he routinely catapults into the stratosphere, buoyed by a rhythm section of bassist Jaribu Shahid and drummer Hamid Drake. And three tracks on the record feature Pharoah Sanders for some tenor battles that are downright incendiary. At this gig Murray will perform with a relatively stripped-down lineup--Kiavue, Ladrezeau, Shahid, the Senegalese guitarist Herve Samb, and drummer Benjamin Sanz--but this leader and his group don't need to be funked-up with brass to smoke. $25 in advance, $28 at the door. Friday, July 2, 9 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707.

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