Dave McMurray - Nu Life Stories



Dave McMurray is an amazing musician. First time I met him was in London UK. I attended his concert in the Apollo theatre in London/Hammersmith. The venue was so impressing that I couldn't resist to write a report about it. I have already known Dave by his diverse albums as "Piece Of Mind", Soul Searching and "Area Reservada 2".  Some will also remember his album "David McMurray Show", his collaboration with the group "Mirror-Mirror" (Sax, Beats and Meditations") or in earlier time with the group "Was (Not Was)". He also played with such great artists as for example Gerald Alston ("First Class Only"), Mark Isham, The B-52's ("Good Stuff"), Tim Bowman ("Smile"), Herbie Hancock or Bob James ("Joyride"). 

Dave isn't only a fantastic sax player but also an excellent keyboardist and flutist. He is also experienced in producing, composing and arranging. On Sunday Morning, the album starter, we can listen to his heavy and funky swing. He is accompanied by his long-time crew Wayne Gerard (guitar), Darrell "Peanut" Smith (bass) and other fellow-musicians as Ron Otis (drums), Adell "Showboat" Shavers (guitar) and Marlon Curry (percussion). Dave's appearance is dominant and powerful. He is running onstage like a bull. This dynamic is audible in his mighty blows.

One of my favorite genres is acid jazz, especially Roy Ayers' music. Dave's cover of Searching catches perfectly the spirit of the original, especially with KEM's smoky voice. KEM is the upcoming star of the R&B and Adult Soul scene. His debut album "Kemistry", released on the Motown Records label  in 2002, got high acclaims by critics and audience. KEM is as Dave from Detroit, so a collaboration between both is self-evident, especially because both have Grover Washington Jr. as their idol. But it's not only KEM's voice which makes this song to a fantastic event. Dave shows his skills on flute, keyboards and tenor/soprano sax. I cannot imagine that the original sounds better. 

Detroit 2 Cali is featuring Kevin Toney on acoustic piano. His latest album is "Strut" released on Shanachie. The drum beaten groove is the ideal ground for Dave's melodic voyage which is perfectly interrupted by Kevin's syncopated blasts on the piano keys. Kevin is also born and raised in Detroit city. Both musicians have the urban groove in common. 

Dave often plays together with the Ridgeway Sisters. Grace, Ester and Gloria have awesome timbres and perfectly scat along. Good Day is their song.

Mack Avenue is more of the urban styled music. Dave and Wayne Gerard like to improvise but always in a melodic way. 

Bob Your Head is dedicated to Bob James. Dave is always talking about Bob with great respect. He considers him as a friend and mentor. Both are often playing together on tours around the globe. So it wasn't a surprise that Bob is also featured on Dave's new album "Nu Life Stories", which is scheduled for release in April 2003. Bob is playing a solo on electric piano. You know how it sounds by his Fourplay and solo albums. His hands are graced.

Dave McMurray loves the Hip Hop beat. Always adapting new influences his travels to Europe show concrete results in his solo albums. No wonder that you can listen to the typical drum-loops on many tracks of his album. Big Dreams, featuring George Duke on Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer, makes no difference. Some critics dislike these grooves: Jim Santella (All About Jazz) comments: "The only trouble is, it's too perfect." Such opinions are often to hear especially by jazz affinados. But this music sells, the best proof that people like these grooves.

Sometimes Dave alternates the rhythm. Like We Used To is a slow romantic tune with Ron Otis on drums and Marlon Curry on percussion.

Herschel Boone is another divine voice featured on Steppin' Out written by Dave and Herschel . A little vocodered but not too overdosed. I like this choir arrangement which reminds me at "Chicago". Herschel was also singing on the U.K. tour. Who ever listen to his "Let It Go", know: this guy deserves an own album. By the way friends of Dave McMurray wake up: Dave and Herschel will perform from 4/4/2003 to 4/5/2003 in the Jazz Cafe, London.

What is a Lyricon woodwind synthesizer? J. L. Cooper Electronics constructed MIDI adapter modules for several synthesizers, one of which was the Lyricon, a wind controller using woodwind-fingering technique, which was popular in the 1970s. Read more about this instrument in Ron Cole's doctoral dissertation, "The Electronic Valve Instrument: Nyle Steiner's Unique Musical Innovation" or at obsolete.com. Dave is playing the Lyricon on The Jazz Life. It's a very dynamic up tempo tune and who can follow the rapidity of this tune better than Marcus Miller on bass and Wayne Gerard on guitar. Dave's parade piece is comparable with electric jazz experiments of the early 70's by horn players like Don Ellis, Miles Davis or Eddie Henderson.

"I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry" was the name of George Duke's album released in 1975. It's a crossover jazz album with fusion elements and R&B.  Dave covers the ballad Someday. George re-released this tune on his album "Dream On" (1991).

The title Funki Dashiki isn't chosen accidentally. It's an traditional African clothing which was very popular in the 70's in the hippie scene worldwide and one of Dave's favorite shirts. A shuffle rhythm by a drum machine, Rayse Biggs muted trumpet, Adell "Showboat" Shavers' wah-wah guitar are some ingredients for Dave's fusion excursion.

The title tune Nu Life Stories is featuring a further Detroit musical talent: Charles Scales on acoustic piano. You can also listen to his music on Gene Dunlap's album "Tales Of The Phatman" (2000), where he plays keyboards and Rayse Biggs muted trumpet. Dave knows his local jazz heroes.

Listen to more funky music on Dave's House. This is Dave's life style mixed with house elements. A tune designed for dance floor audience.

Killing Me Softly With His Song was a huge Shirley Bassey or Roberta Flack hit. This cover version is featuring Boonie Peele, an awesome sultry voice. Boonie is also featured on Dave's first solo album "David McMurray Show". This song was first released as a single version "Area Reservada 2" for a Spanish radio show on Radio 3. Great to hear it again on this album.

Friends of Dave McMurray's music already know it. This album is a must. To the other listeners my advice: Start your Dave McMurray collection quickly before all his albums are sold out.