Bethesda Blues and Jazz Youth Orchestra Asst. Director with the highly esteemed Saxophonist Fred Foss,
lauded Jazz youth
Reviews of "The Observer"
Bob Murad, an impressive modern jazz pianist, proves to also be a particularly inventive composer on The Observer, his recording debut as a leader. Murad, has worked in his career with such notables as Gary Bartz, JR Monterose, Frank Morgan, Nick Brignola and Ralph Peterson Jr, among others.
The Observer features Murad with Luis Faife (alto and tenor), bassist Rashaan Carter, drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel and percussionist Frederick Berryhill III. on six of the nine selections while the other songs have Faife, trumpeter Kenny Rittenhouse, bassist James King and drummer Frank T. Williams IV. along with the pianist. All of the pieces are Murad originals except for a medley of two songs written by Arthur Rhames who was one of his mentors.
While the music sometimes makes one think of late 1960s Blue Note, altoist Jackie McLean and pianist McCoy Tyner, those are only points of reference. The harmonically advanced compositions are quite original in both their melodies and their chord changes, and the individual musicians all have their own sounds and approaches to playing modern jazz.
The opening selection, “Transception,” has an angular melody with altoist Luis Faife (who Murad has often worked with since 2006) in the lead. The shifting rhythms behind his solo keep the music stimulating and unpredictable while the bass, alto, piano and drum solos make this an excellent introduction to Bob Murad’s group. “Hexagon” is a complex jazz waltz with a haunting muted trumpet solo by Rittenhouse and statements by Murad and Faife. The medium-tempo “Observer” includes one of the leader’s strongest improvisations of the set.
“MLK” is a heart-warming tribute to Martin Luther King. The warm ballad inspires expressive statements by Rittenhouse (which hints in spots at Freddie Hubbard) and the pianist. “Expressions” is a 6/4 modal piece with some strong African percussion by Berryhill and a particularly passionate Faife solo. One could certainly imagine McCoy Tyner performing that piece. Arthur Rhames’ songs “It’s A Never Ending Goal/How Great You Are” are played as an uptempo cooker with hard-swinging alto and piano solos.
Cult Hero” has excellent interplay between Faife and Murad while “No Exit” is a rhythmically exciting piece with adventurous solos and a melody that should be covered by others. The program closes with some solid and joyful swinging on “Multiverses.”
All in all, The Observer is an impressive effort by Bob Murad, a pianist and composer who deserves to be much better known.
Scott Yanow, author of 11 books on jazz including Trumpet Kings, The Great Jazz Guitarists and Jazz On Record 1917-76
June 2015 Sunjump CD Release
Bob Murad: The Observer SJCD0015
Showing a wealth of compositional originality rooted in Blue Note Classicism, this debut CD by Washington, DC based pianist/composer Bob Murad features 8 original compositions and an arrangement of 2 Arthur Rhames originals performed by 2 hard driving bands. Great music by a fascinating musician who is known regionally and deserves to be known internationally. Murad is backed by an array of proven veterans and strong newcomers.
Recorded at Blue House Productions,
Silver Spring, MD by Jeff Gruber (tracks 2,4,9) 7/17/2014
Recorded, edited & mixed at NRS, Catskill, NY by Scott Petito 8/5/2014
Cover Photo: Peter Murad
Booklet Photos: Kenny Rittenhouse, John Esposito, Jeff Gruber
Photo Edits: Laura Steele
Graphic Design: Bruce Sconzo
Executive Producer: John Esposito
Producers: Bob Murad, John Esposito