David Murray (saxophonist)

David Keith Murray[1] (born February 19, 1955)[2] is an American jazz musician who plays tenor saxophone and bass clarinet mainly. He has recorded prolifically for many record labels since the mid-1970s.[3]

David Murray
David Murray at Cully Jazz festival 2011
David Murray at Cully Jazz festival 2011
Background information
Born (1955-02-19) February 19, 1955 (age 66)
OriginOakland, California, United States
Years active1970s–present
LabelsMotéma Music, Red Baron, Justin Time, Marge
Associated actsWorld Saxophone Quartet


Murray was born in Oakland, California, United States.[2] He attended Pomona College, graduating in 1977.[4] He was initially influenced by free jazz musicians such as Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp. He gradually evolved a more diverse style in his playing and compositions. Murray set himself apart from most tenor players of his generation by not taking John Coltrane as his model, choosing instead to incorporate elements of mainstream players Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Paul Gonsalves into his mature style.[5] Despite this, he recorded a tribute to Coltrane, Octet Plays Trane, in 1999. He played a set with the Grateful Dead at a show on September 22, 1993, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. His 1996 tribute to the Grateful Dead, Dark Star, was also critically well received.[6]

Murray was a founding member of the World Saxophone Quartet with Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill and Hamiet Bluiett.[7] He has recorded or performed with musicians such as Henry Threadgill, James Blood Ulmer, Olu Dara, Tani Tabbal, Butch Morris, Donal Fox, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Sunny Murray (no relation), Ed Blackwell, Johnny Dyani, Fred Hopkins, and Steve McCall. David Murray's use of the circular breathing technique has enabled him to play astonishingly long phrases.[8]




  1. ^ "Murray, David (Keith)". Encyclopedia.com.
  2. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 1782/3. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  3. ^ Staff Writer. "Best of the best, David Murray, presents workshop, concerts in Bozeman". Bozeman Daily Chronicle, June 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-29.
  4. ^ "2012 Commencement Recap". Pomona College. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  5. ^ Robert Palmer (October 27, 1982). "The Pop Life; David Murray Comes Into His Own". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-06-29.
  6. ^ John Metzger. "Dark Star: The Music of the Grateful Dead". The Music Box Online. Retrieved 2006-06-29.
  7. ^ Chris Kelsey, Allmusic. "World Saxophone Quartet". Answers.com. Retrieved 2006-06-29.
  8. ^ Staff Writer. "Jazz Profiles - David Murray". BBC Radio 3 Jazz Profiles. Retrieved 2006-06-29.
  9. ^ "Bird Awards winners 1985-2005". North Sea Jazz. Archived from the original on 2006-05-19. Retrieved 2006-06-29.
  10. ^ Bettie Gabrielli. "JAZZ ARTISTS JON JANG & DAVID MURRAY IN CONCERT FEBRUARY 8 AT OBERLIN COLLEGE". Oberlin Online. Archived from the original on 2006-05-20. Retrieved 2006-06-29.
  11. ^ Jon Pareles - The New York Times. "David Murray Creole Project". Europe Jazz Network. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-06-29.
  12. ^ "The Jazzpar Prize". The Jazzpar Prize Official Website. Retrieved 2006-06-29.
  13. ^ Staff Writer. "David Murray". Walker Art Center. Archived from the original on 2006-08-16. Retrieved 2006-06-29.

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