Sunny Murray’s Early European Career

Celebrated overseas, but scuffling for work in the United States, drummer Sunny Murray’s musical life in the late 1960s-early 1970s set the pattern for his eventual permanent relocation to Paris, where he died in 2017. Although The Wire’s Pierre Crépon spends a little too much time trying to cram Murray’s experiences into concepts developed from physicist Erwin Schrödinger (!) and scientist Herman von Helmholtz (!!), he does manage to discuss some of the musical highlights of Murray’s career after he parted ways with pianist Cecil Taylor. Besides legendary 1968 European concerts, where Murray played alongside older drum-innovators Max Roach, Elvin Jones and Art Blakey, Crépon lists a number of important late ’60s, early ’70s sessions in which Murray participated. They include as a member of  bassist Alan Silva‘s Celestrial Communication Orchestra; BYG sideman gigs with tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp, pianist Dave Burrell and trombonist Clifford Thornton; with the drummer’s own band featuring little-known Free Jazz saxophonists Byard Lancaster and Kenneth Terroade; plus one exceptional 1971 Intercommunal Music LP on which the drummer’s working band joined forces with the group  of “official” leader, French pianist François Tusques,  for an historic release.