Sunny Murray

Sunny Murray

Reissued and Expanded! Classic and important '66 release from the innovative drummer Sunny Murray in a quintet session, remastered and with bonus interview track between Murray and ESP label founder Bernard Stollman.

Sunny Murray is one of the most important drummers in the development of free jazz. In his work as a member of the groups of Cecil Taylor and then Albert Ayler, he was a pioneer in the abandonment of steady time, the freest of the free, taking the drums out of their subordinate timekeeping role and standing as an equal in the music's textures. He was a crucial component of ESP-Disk’s first jazz release, Ayler's Spiritual Unity, of which critic Ekkehard Jost wrote, "Ayler's negation of fixed pitches finds a counterpart in Peacock's and Murray's negation of the beat. In no group of this time is so little heard of a steady beat."

For his ESP leader session on July 23, 1966, he used an excellent group. It was the recorded debut for French trumpeter Jacques Coursil (after making a splash in the ‘60s, he stopped making records until 2005 when John Zorn – who’d taken French lessons from him – coaxed him back into the studio), whose mighty tone, influenced by New Orleans jazz, helps him hold his own with the two saxophonists. Byard Lancaster (like Murray a product of Philadelphia) also made his recording debut on this LP, and his solos are highlights. Though largely sticking to his native city, he’s remained active and productive ever since. The other altoist on the gig, the mysterious Jack Graham, is not documented on any other sessions; he’s subordinate to Lancaster, but the two-alto sound is part of what makes this album distinctive. Like Murray, bassist Alan Silva had worked under Cecil Taylor (his recording debut had come two months earlier on Cecil’s Unit Structures); later he would work with Ayler and make an album of his own for ESP. He’s been an admired and much used player, aside from a bit of a hiatus in the ‘80s.


Sunny Murray: percussion
Jacques Coursil: trumpet
Jack Graham: alto sax
Byard Lancaster: alto sax
Alan Silva: bass

Track Listing

1.Early History/The New Music23:232.Sunny Murray1:453.Phase 1,2,3,49:324.Hilariously10;115.Angels and Devils11:226.Giblet8:347.Recap Session1:448.Musicians and Magic8:49

All compositions by Sunny Murray except Angels And Devils (Jacques Coursil)


Engineer: David Hancock. Production Manager: George Abi-Hanna. Digital restoration: Douglas McGregor. Photographer: Sandra Stollman. Design by Omark Khouri.

Press Quotes

"Murray's pan-rhythmic approach, effortlessly swinging in often implied or seemingly nonexistent meters, has been highly influential on generations of jazz drummers." 
- Clifford Allen, All About Jazz

"Murray's percussion work, setting up complex webs of pulsations using a remarkably small kit -- what he does with a snare, floor tom, and cymbals beggars belief -- is without precedent in the history of jazz" - Dan Warburton, All Music Guide

"Sunny Murray illuminates jazz drumming. His open meters and timing set rhythm and pulse on a new and invigorating course. In doing so, he gave jazz drumming a dynamism and drive that still resonates." - jerry D'Souza, All About Jazz


ESP 1032 remastered with interviews

ESP 1032

Musicians: Sunny Murray / Jacques Coursil / Jack Graham / Byard Lancaster / Alan Silva

Play the samples

Digital download Choice of WAVS or MP3s
Compact Disk In Jewel Case with liner notes
  • Product Code: ESP4037
  • Availability: In Stock
  • CD $9.98
  • WAV Download $8.99
  • MP3 Download $8.99

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