Arthur Doyle & Sunny Murray - At Glenn Miller Café

David Keenan, The Wire

Saxophonist Arthur Doyle's recent hook-up with drummer Sunny Murray has been extremely fruitful. Murray's a fearful partner, capable of bullying lesser players into marathon grandstanding duels, but Doyle's so completely in his own zone that he never rises to Murray's relentless challenges.
This CD was recorded in Stockholm, the city where Albert Ayler later claimed he first "started to play what was in my soul", and was promptly hauled off stage for his vision.
It's fitting then that the late alto saxophonist Bengt Frippe Nordström, who actually recorded Albert's first "official" date (released on Sonet as The First Recordings) joins Murray for a short run through of some heavily Ayler-reverent material before making way for Doyle. Nordström died six months later, making this final appearance a touching tribute to someone who lived and breathed fire music.

For the rest of the disc Doyle's on terrifying and ultra-primitive form, sounding weird Egyptian calls through his horn that trail off into demonic laughter.
The tricky job of carving some dynamic out of Murray's relentless cymbal and snare work draws out some of his most melancholy, introspective work to date.
Doyle's regular showstopper "Nature boy" opens boldly, only for the saxophonist to start throwing in little questioning phrases until he drops the horn altogether and burst into song.
"Two Free Jazz Men speak" is even better, with Doyle ducking and rasping, as Murray fires off round after round in attempt to still him. Doyle's fine sleeve notes, called "The Arthur Doyle Concept Of Playing The Voice-O-Phone", complete this package. "First you have to come from the belly," he deadpans, "like you are throwing everything out of it." Ringside seats are not recommended.