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Welcome to Philadelphia Jazz Project




Celebrating Sunny Murray

Sunny Murray

The Sunny Murray Memorial

Saturday, February 24th, 2018 at 6:00pm

The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts

738 S. Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA 19146

 

FREE Admission, but you must RSVP

TO RSVP CLICK HERE

 

"I'm at the point in my life now with this message to happiness, expressing to people the magic of being liberated. And there is a magic there, of course, because jazz itself, is the music of magic.” 

                                                                          Sunny Murray

 


Sunny Murray was born in Idabel, Oklahoma and spent his youth in Philadelphia before moving to New York City where he began playing with Cecil Taylor: He was featured on Cecil Taylor's influential, 1962 concerts in Denmark released as the album, Nefertiti the Beautiful One Has Come. Murray was among the first to forego the drummer's traditional role as timekeeper in favor of purely textural playing. After his period with Cecil Taylor's group, Sunny Murray's influence continued as a core part of Albert Ayler's trio who recorded Spiritual Unity: He later recorded over a dozen albums under his own name for a number of record companies including ESP-Disk, BYG Actuel, West Wind and PhillyJazz.

 

Sunny Murray - Albert Ayler - Don CherryIn 1982, Sunny Murray and Philly Joe Jones collaborated to present a legendary, big band project, The Change Of The Century Orchestra, which featured a plethora of musicians from both avant-garde and mainstream Jazz. During his career, he worked and/or recorded with such artists as, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Jimmy Lyons, David Eyges, Billy Bang, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Malachi Favors, Burton Greene, Alan Silva, David Murray, Charles Gayle, William Parker, Gunter Hampel, Kenny Millions, Clifford Thornton, Arthur Doyle and The Contemporary Jazz Quartet. Sunny Murray also worked with many Philadelphia musicians including Dave Burrell, Khan Jamal, Byrd Lancaster, Monnette Sudler, Tyrone Brown, Middle Middleton, Odean Pope, Ted Curson, Tyrone Hill, Sabir Mateen, Archie Shepp, Jimmy Vass and Yousef Yancey.

 

Sunny Murray died on December 7th, 2017, from unspecified causes at the age of 81.

 

Kevin Diehl is a Philadelphia-based drummer, percussionist and composer and founding member of The Willow Trio and The Sonic Liberation Front [SLF]. SLF has worked with Marshall Allen, Odean Pope, Billy Bang, Kahil El Zabar, Sunny Murray, Michelle Rosewoman, Thurman Barker, Kulu Mele African Dance Ensemble, Oliver Lake and Members of the Prometheus Chamber Orchestra. Kevin Diehl is the organizer/curator of The Sunny Murray Memorial.

 

PJP spoke with drummer and composer Kevin Diehl about his work and The Sunny Murray Memorial.

 

PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?

 

Sunny Murray 2Kevin Diehl: My interests lie in communicating on a viceral level. I am totally inspired by the instantaneous musical ping-pong that went on between Philly Joe Jones and Red Garland. It embodied the think on your feet, feel with your heart art form that is jazz. Similarly there is the call and response of bata drumming that is a deep inspiration. Another aspect to wit and feel is the conjuring of energies. It takes you to places that are intellectually unexplored, yet corporally familiar. This, I see in the so-called “free form” music of the “new thing” artists like Sunny Murray. I see it in traditional Afro-Cuban spiritual music. I see it in electronic music. Music.  

 

PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?

 

Kevin Diehl: I have mentioned in previous interviews a wide swath of musicians from Africa, Cuba, New Orleans, Philadelphia in a wide swath of genres, from Afro-Cuban Lukumi, traditional jazz, Bebop, Hard Bop; loft jazz, chamber music. But a pivotal influence came to me with a mis-dialed phone call in 1985. It was Sunny Murray. We spoke for 45 minutes. We became lifelong friends. I learned more things driving in the car with Sunny. He hipped me to drum method books from Kenny Clark to NARD (National Association of Rudimentary Drummers) to Philly Joe Jones’ Brush Book. He taught me the value of only playing with quality musicians. He showed me by example, what composing with a unique voice is.

 

PJP: Tell us about Sonny Murray?  

 

Kevin Diehl: Sunny Murray changed the way we think about drumming. Sunny dealt with rhythmic pulses. Short pulses and long pulses in combination and contrast. Out of manipulating different pulses, he conjured up energies on which/with which creative improvised music was forever transformed. He was a composer with a distinct original voice. He gave many of the giants of the “New Music” their start.

 

Sunny Murray 3

 

PJP: What are you planning to present in his honor?

 

Kevin Diehl: The Sunny Murray Memorial is a tribute concert presenting six ensembles. Interspersed with these 6 performances, Sunny’s family and friends will give spoken tribute to Sunny Murray.

 

The event's performances will include:

 

    ▪    DJ Aaron Levinson spins Sunny Murray’s music
    ▪    Harold Smith, Elliot Levin & Dwight James Trio
    ▪    Mohammed Ali, Terry Lawson, Raymond A. King & Howard Cooper Quartet
    ▪    Monnette Sudler, Bobby Zankel, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Alan Nelson & Farnell Newton (Sunny’s Nephew) Quintet
    ▪    Philly Loves Sunny Flash Mob conducted by Julius Masri
    ▪    The WatSun Intergenerational Ensemble;
    ▪    Dave Burrell, Odean Pope, Henry Grimes & Kevin Diehl Quartet
    ▪    A special guest musician will be announced the day of the show.

 

PJP: Why is this theme/concept so important?

 

Sunny Murray 4Kevin Diehl: Sunny Murray is a true Philadelphian. He arrived here at the age of 9, from Idabel, Oklahoma. He came up in North Philadelphia. He moved to New York at the age of nineteen. After establishing established a connection with Cecil Taylor with whom he developed his revolutionizing voice on the drum kit. His career took Sunny and his family to Philly, New York, Paris, Back to Philly. Always back to Philly. He connected with the Philly jazz community with his Change of the Century Orchestra. He paved the way for several for careers on the world stage.

 

PJP: Who is working with you on this?

 

Kevin Diehl: The Sunny Murray Memorial is presented by Ars Nova Workshop, Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts, Philadelphia Jazz Project and Myself. I was originally approached by Connie Murray, Sunny’s brother and former arranger for Sunny Murray and Jymie Merritt.

 

PJP: How can people get involved?

 

Kevin Diehl: Musicians – bring your instruments to the Clef Club on Saturday, February 24. If you have a complex instrument or a drum set, bring something small, or just bring your voice. Music lovers – Come experience a once in lifetime outpouring of love for one of Philly’s true originals, Sunny Murray.  

 

PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?

 

Kevin Diehl: Serendipity and premeditation collude to take you to magical places.

 

The Sunny Murray Memorial

Saturday, February 24th, 2018 at 6:00pm

The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts

738 S. Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA 19146

 

FREE Admission, but you must RSVP

TO RSVP CLICK HERE

 

The Sunny Murray Memorial is a production of Sonic Liberation Front, The Philadelphia Clef Club Of Jazz & Performing Arts, Ars Nova Workshop and Philadelphia Jazz Project. It was organized and curated by Kevin Diehl.

 

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.

 

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.