Sunny Murray

James Marcellus Arthur “Sunny” Murray (born Idabel, Oklahoma in 1936) is one of the pioneers of the free jazz style of drumming.

Murray spent his youth in Philadelphia before moving to New York City where he began playing with Cecil Taylor: “We played for about a year, just practicing, studying - we went to workshops with Varèse, did a lot of creative things, just experimenting, without a job” He featured on the influential 1962 concerts in Denmark released as Nefertiti the Beautiful One Has Come.

He was among the first to forgo the drummer's traditional role as timekeeper in favor of purely textural playing. “Murray's aim was to free the soloist completely from the restrictions of time, and to do this he set up a continual hailstorm of percussion ... continuous ringing stickwork on the edge of the cymbals, an irregular staccato barrage on the snare, spasmodic bass drum punctuation and constant, but not metronomic, use of the sock-cymbal”

After his period with Taylor's group, Murray's influence continued as a core part of Albert Ayler's trio who recorded Spiritual Unity: “Sunny Murray and Albert Ayler did not merely break through bar lines, they abolished them altogether.”

He later recorded under his own name for ESP-Disk and then when he moved to Europe for BYG Actuel.

Album Reviews
Book Excerpts
Live Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles

Photos (17)

Discography

Homework

Homework

NoBusiness Records
2019

buy
 

Sonic Liberation...

High Two Recordings
2011

buy
Sunny Murray: Big Chief

Sunny Murray: Big...

Unknown label
2009

buy
 

Big Chief

Eremite Records
2008

buy
Sunny Murray

Sunny Murray

ESP Disk
2008

buy
The Gearbox Explodes!

The Gearbox Explodes!

Foghorn Records
2008

buy

Watch

Similar

Albert Ayler Albert Ayler
saxophone, tenor
Don Cherry Don Cherry
trumpet
Archie Shepp Archie Shepp
saxophone
Paul Bley Paul Bley
piano
Fred Anderson Fred Anderson
saxophone
Steve Lacy Steve Lacy
saxophone, soprano
Joe McPhee Joe McPhee
woodwind
Pharoah Sanders Pharoah Sanders
saxophone
David Murray David Murray
saxophone, tenor

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.