Recorded in December 2002, Waltz Again has only recently made it on to the shelves. It is Murray’s ninth album as a leader for the Justin Time label.
The CD begins with the 26-minute long "Pushkin Suite #1," a complex and challenging seven-part movement that opens with a stormy swirl of sound that serves as a prelude to the action ahead. In all, 14 players are featured on the CD. In addition to Murray and the string section (five violins, two violas, two cellos and a double bass), there is piano, bass and drums. This lineup allows the prolific-yet-unheralded Murray to work in an orchestral as well as more traditional jazz combo setting. On Waltz Again , he freely experiments, pushing the music to dark, jagged edges on one song and then striking serene, lush melodies on another.
Murray, who composed all the selections, doesn’t use the strings as simple background, but instead incorporates them into the entire project. They are as vital to the music as Murray’s own saxophone.
In addition to "Pushkin Suite #1," which is the CD’s centerpiece, the album has four other songs. The eight-minute long "Waltz Again" is dedicated to Murray’s guitarist father, Walter, whose love of waltzes inspired this enchanting number.
The percussive "Dark Secrets" is said to have been inspired by an exhibit of Bantou burial art, and "Sparkle" is a fast-paced song that joyously surges along under Murray’s confident blasts.
Stretching more than 11 minutes is "Steps," one of the high points of the album. It’s a moody ballad that shimmers with strings and features some of Murray’s prettiest playing. But, even here, he takes an unexpected turn or two.