Music

Murzyn covers Coltrane tunes

Saxophonist offers concert as a true believer in the jazz icon's musical vision

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 7/25/19

In 1966, American jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane said, "I know that there are bad forces, forces that bring suffering to others and misery to the world. I want to be …

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Music

Murzyn covers Coltrane tunes

Saxophonist offers concert as a true believer in the jazz icon's musical vision

Posted

In 1966, American jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane said, "I know that there are bad forces, forces that bring suffering to others and misery to the world. I want to be the opposite force. I want to be the force which is truly for good."

To Coltrane, a musician is a message-giver. He believed making music was a calling tied to a greater good. In 1964 he penned a letter to his listeners on the liner notes of the groundbreaking album "A Love Supreme." It was a prayer, "I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music." He recorded the album in one session.

Critics called this work his masterpiece and one of the greatest albums of all time. The man who transformed the American jazz landscape with his soul and a saxophone died July 17, 1967 in Huntington New York. He was 40 years old.

Today (July 25) from 6:30 to 9:30 pm in the Adobe Bar at The Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, the Alex Murzyn Quartet will pay tribute to the jazz icon with an evening of classic Coltrane compositions and other jazz standards. There is no charge to attend.

Saxophonist Murzyn said his first memory of hearing Coltrane was "A Love Supreme."

"I remember putting it on and being blown by the intensity of that music," he said. "Nothing ever affected me as much as that initial listening. What impresses me most about Coltrane is that he communicates to the listener." He continued to describe another work he was moved by. "If you listen to the composition 'Alabama,' you feel the pain of being in Selma during the civil rights struggles. Even if you are a white person like me, you get a glimpse of what was happening back then."

Murzyn said he is looking forward to performing in Taos again after an inspiring concert earlier this year at Taos Mesa Brewery. He said the lineup for the Adobe Bar gig is the same.

"I'll be playing with Peter Amahl on drums, Andy Z on bass and Robert Mueller on piano," he said. "This will be our second performance together as a group. When you perform together with a musician, you become familiar with his playing and become more comfortable on the stage. Peter has a great feel and I love his playing. Having a great feel means that whether you are listening to or performing with him, it just feels so good. I like Andy's playing too, he's so steady that no matter what happens onstage, I feel that the music will turn out great. Robert is the perfect choice for playing this music. He has such a McCoy Tyner-like approach to playing the piano."

Now a resident of Santa Fe, Murzyn spent 30 years in the San Francisco music scene. His music has deep roots in traditional and contemporary jazz, soul, rock, funk and Latin. He has appeared as a sideman with the Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, Bobby Hutcherson, Tommy Igoe, Delfeayo Marsalis, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Tito Puente, Stanley Clarke and others. Murzyn said he is inspired by "many musicians of my generation. I started by listening to Chick Corea and 'Return to Forever.' Hearing Joe Farrell on flute and on sax was inspiring to me. Later I discovered John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson and Sonny Rollins. Those players remain my biggest influence to this day. I also love Sonny Stitt, Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley and Gene Ammons."

Jazz collaborations onstage can be electric - Murzyn shared an onstage memory where everything flowed. "Playing with Stanley Clarke was amazing for me. I was a part of a local horn section backing him up. This part time his regular featured tenor wasn't there. We played his version of 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,' which differs greatly from Mingus'. After we played the melody, he then turns to me to solo. I had no chord changes but just jumped in and figured them out on the fly. I got a big high-five from him from him at the end. Later his manager called me to go on tour with him, but it didn't work out. I have fond memories of those nights. I'm better if I get surprised like that. Otherwise, I think too much."

Murzyn said jazz fans can look forward to him giving the audience his all. "I always play my hardest. I have never been accused of mailing it in. I play with energy even on soft, pretty ballads. The audience should expect an evening of deep spiritual jazz because every member of this group understands and loves Coltrane's music We will also play some McCoy Tyner songs and Thelonious Monk."

For more information, call the venue at (575) 758-2233.

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