I went along to The Vortex to see Sunny Murray because Sunny Murray is a stone cold jazz legend and that's a fact, Jack. Tonight he teamed up with double bass freak John Edwards and multi sax abuser Tony Bevan for a session of free and freaky improvisations. And it was fucking great.
Sunny plays drums with his face, it seems. Every convulsion of lip and twitch of eyebrow channels down through his limbs and hits a drum. And he doesn't stop moving his face. At quieter points you can hear him singing, and by instantaneous extension making the drums sing along. It's really something. Bevan and Edwards are both accomplished musicians in their own right and play their asses off in the company of this crazy old man. Three sets of beautiful madness that hit intense, screeching highs and descend into low swirling masses with slow bowed double bass and languorous deep sax tones that made me feel physically sick. In a good way.
Between the sets, Sunny upsets the white and uptight full house at The Vortex by asking for a joint and talking about the ghetto and AIDS and using the word nigger and all sorts of other shit most of it seemingly off the cuff out of context rambling interspersed with occasional thank yous. It was hilarious really, or I thought it was anyway, not least because of the nervous shuffling it elicited from the upper middle class fifty plus set that made up the vast majority of onlookers. Then he's off again on another excursion into unexplored territory, using his drums as a spaceship.
At one point he says 'I'd like to thank y'all for being here, because we're always together... exploring new things'. Well I'd like to thank Sunny for being there last night because it was fucking out there, a true blue trip and so damn refreshing. So thank you Sunny Murray, thank you for being a true creative. You're a bad motherfucker and I hope you live forever.