Download of the Week: Sunny Murray

Sunny Murray is largely credited for putting the "free" in jazz drumming. He passed earlier this month, on December 7, at the age of 81 in Paris, France, his home.

Murray had a number of albums as leader, and his self-titled sophomore release for ESP-Disk Sunny Murray from 1966 and Big Chief from '69 are among my favorites. That being said, my favorite performances are from year's earlier.

Recorded in 1964 and the first recording for the ESP-Disk label, Spiritual Unity features Albert Ayler on tenor sax, Gary Peacock on bass, and Murray on percussion. The record was put down in a single session and to my ears/brain is sounds as fresh today as it must have back in '64.

I have to admit that hearing music like Spiritual Unity and Cecil Taylor's Nefertiti, the Beautiful One Has Come from 1962, which sits in the #2 spot on my favorite Murray performances list, consistently re-write my sense of the state of music history. And I can't help but think if I'd heard this music in the '60s, things would be different—different because this music frees your mind (and your ass necessarily follows).

Sunny Murray is available from ESP-Disk.

Spiritual Unity AND NEW Spiritual Unity 50th Anniversary Expanded Edition is available from Bandcamp

Nefertiti, the Beautiful One Has Come is available from Tidal