photo by Peter Gannushkin
Saxophonist Bryan Murray moved to New York in 2002 and his avant-jazz country band “Bryan and the Haggards” released their first album to huge critical acclaim. The Boston Globe called the “Biggest Surprise Jazz Album of the Year” and it made Wire Magazine’s top 10 jazz albums of 2010. Music critic Nate Chinen of the New York Times called it “satisfying as both a commentary on Mr. Haggard’s music and a dispatch from the current jazz frontier.”
Their second album “Still Alive and Kickin’ Down the Walls” received equal praise. Notably Steve Greenlee from the Boston Globe states “Bryan and the Haggards expertly bridge the worlds of two genres rarely seen together.” Jazz Times critic Bill Milkowski calls it “a daring punk-jazz ensemble…what you’d imagine dancing to at David Lynch’s wedding reception.” Bryan and the Haggards latest release is “Merles Just Want to Have Fun” with guitar and banjoist Eugene Chadbourne on Northern Spy Records.
In 2012-2013 Bryan performed with the legendary David Byrne and St Vincent. The Love This Giant tour consisted of the US, Europe, Iceland, Australia and appearances on Letterman, Colbert Report and Jimmy Fallon. The touring band is also featured on the EP “Brass Tactics.”
Bryan continues to perform as a sideman with Jon Lundbom’s Big Five Chord. The group is releasing a series of 4 Eps in 2016 that will also be available as a 4-cd box set at the end of the year. Chris Spector of the Midwest Record calls it “A progressive sax date that sounds like it could have come directly from the loft jazz/free jazz years in New York…”
Bryan’s latest projects involve his created instrument – the balto! saxophone, an alto sax fitted with a bari mouthpiece and plastic reed. The self-released album BALTO! fuses hip hop beats, jazz elements and presents the balto! as an instrumental rapper of sorts. The balto! can also be heard on many of the Big Five Chord albums as well as the ¡!Baltbomb!¡ duo and two albums with free jazz drummer Plaidworthy. The newest release “Beats by Balto! v. 1” is a collaboration with guitarist Jon Lundbom and is available on Chant Records.