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June 2009

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Venue:
Philadelphia Art Alliance251 S. 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA Map
Price: $12 General Admission
Friday, June 12, 2009 - 8:00pm

Odean Pope + Sunny Murray

Odean Pope, tenor saxophone
Sunny Murray, drums

Sunny Murray was one of the early avant-garde's most inventive and influential drummers, doing a great deal to establish the role of the drums in free improvisation. Although Murray could swing as hard as anyone, he often abandoned the drums' traditional timekeeping role. Born in 1936, Murray performed at first with traditional artists like Red Allen and Willie "The Lion" Smith, but soon branched out into more adventurous territory with Jackie McLean and Ted Curson. His big break, however, came when he joined Cecil Taylor's group in 1959, which allowed him to improvise at a far more advanced level.

While touring Europe with Taylor, Murray met Albert Ayler, and wound up joining his band in 1964.  Through 1967, Murray appeared on most of the saxophonist's greatest free jazz sessions. He also worked with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, and John Tchicai, and made his first albums as a leader with 1965's Sunny's Time Now (for Jihad) and 1966's Sunny Murray Quintet (for the seminal ESP), the latter of which helped him win Down Beat's New Star award. In 1968, Murray traveled to France, where he played with Archie Shepp and recorded as a leader for Affinity and BYG Actuel.  Upon returning to the U.S. in 1971, Murray settled in Philadelphia and formed a group called the Untouchable Factor, which he led off and on through varying lineups. Today, he resides in Paris and continues to perform and record regularly.

Grounded in the Baptist spirituals of his youth followed by a musical upbringing in Philadelphia with the likes of John Coltrane and organist Jimmy Smith as mentors, tenor saxophonist Odean Pope is the bridge between hard bop and free jazz. His contributions to jazz are of major historical significance and through his over two decade long fruitful association with drummer Max Roach, groundbreaking saxophone choir, trio and quartet work and educational outreach, he has influenced generations of musicians. At the same time, Pope cannot be pigeonholed and has managed to maintain his creativity by continuing to innovate and perfect his sound.

He remains an incredibly busy and active musician with many recent releases in a variety of settings. These sessions showcase his saxophone choir, Locked & Loaded Live at the Blue Note (Half Note, 2006); his spiritual horn recorded au natural, Serenity (CIMPoL, 2007); an inventive tribute to Max Roach, To The Roach (CIMP, 2006); a deliciously funky hip hop jazz fusion, The Misled Children Meet Odean Pope (Porter, 2008); and an exciting trio date with drummer Sunny Murray and bassist Lee Smith, Plant Life (Porter, 2008).