Steve Geraci

Aliqae Song

Reviews

 

Bob Murad

 

The Observer

 

Bob Murad, an impressive modern jazz pianist, proves to also be a particularly inventive composer on The Observer, his recording debut as a leader. Murad, has worked in his career with such notables as Gary Bartz, JR Monterose, Frank Morgan, Nick Brignola and Ralph Peterson Jr, among others.

 

The Observer features Murad with Luis Faife (alto and tenor), bassist Rashaan Carter, drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel and percussionist Frederick Berryhill III. on six of the nine selections while the other songs have Faife, trumpeter Kenny Rittenhouse, bassist James King and drummer Frank T. Williams IV. along with the pianist. All of the pieces are Murad originals except for a medley of two songs written by Arthur Rhames who was one of his mentors.

 

While the music sometimes makes one think of late 1960s Blue Note, altoist Jackie McLean and pianist McCoy Tyner, those are only points of reference. The harmonically advanced compositions are quite original in both their melodies and their chord changes, and the individual musicians all have their own sounds and approaches to playing modern jazz.

 

The opening selection, “Transception,” has an angular melody with altoist Luis Faife (who Murad has often worked with since 2006) in the lead. The shifting rhythms behind his solo keep the music stimulating and unpredictable while the bass, alto, piano and drum solos make this an excellent introduction to Bob Murad’s group. “Hexagon” is a complex jazz waltz with a haunting muted trumpet solo by Rittenhouse and statements by Murad and Faife. The medium-tempo “Observer” includes one of the leader’s strongest improvisations of the set.

 

“MLK” is a heart-warming tribute to Martin Luther King. The warm ballad inspires expressive statements by Rittenhouse (which hints in spots at Freddie Hubbard) and the pianist. “Expressions” is a 6/4 modal piece with some strong African percussion by Berryhill and a particularly passionate Faife solo. One could certainly imagine McCoy Tyner performing that piece. Arthur Rhames’ songs “It’s A Never Ending Goal/How Great You Are” are played as an uptempo cooker with hard-swinging alto and piano solos.

 

Cult Hero” has excellent interplay between Faife and Murad while “No Exit” is a rhythmically exciting piece with adventurous solos and a melody that should be covered by others. The program closes with some solid and joyful swinging on “Multiverses.” All in all, The Observer is an impressive effort by Bob Murad, a pianist and composer who deserves to be much better known.

 

Scott Yanow, author of 11 books on jazz including Trumpet Kings, The Great Jazz Guitarists and Jazz On Record 1917-76

 

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“Murad’s debut CD The Observer, presents an uplifting musical program. His original compositions are both an homage to the Bluenote classic tradition and forward looking gesture displaying a high level of originality, skill and confidence. He’s supported by a superb cast of widely acclaimed “A-list” musicians. A fresh voice deserving wider recognition.”

                                                                    Benito Gonzalez, June 2015

 

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"Bob Murad is a fascinating tunesmith, with compositions that are full of nooks and crannies to explore. But the real joy is in his piano playing. The tone is luminous, the harmonies rich, the turns of phrase bewitching." ~ MICHAEL J. WEST

 

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