Bryan and the Haggards: Pretend It's the End Of the World

"Pretend it's the End of the World”on Hot Cup Records June 8, 2010
New York‘s Most Decorated Avant-Country Instrumental Merle Haggard Cover Band
Featuring: Bryan Murray - Tenor Sax, Jon lrabagon - Alto Sax, Jon Lundbom - Guitar, Moppa Elliott - Bass, Danny Flscher - Drums
"Pretend lt's the End of the World" is the debut album by Bryan and the Haggards, but these five musicians have a long history of performing together. Their music, under the leadership of guitarist Jon Lundbom as "Big V Chord," has been hailed as a "unique and exciting brand ofjazz fusion." This same quintet, led by tenor saxophonist Bryan Murray, here explores the music of Merle Haggard as an instrumental avant-country cover band.

Guitarist Jon Lundbom was first exposed to the music of Merle Haggard by a friend who described the emotional and transcendental power it had for him. After being quickly won over himself, Lundbom passed his newfound love of this music on to the other members of his band. Murray, even more deeply affected than Lundbom, quickly began transcribing some of the tunes for the quintet to play. "Bryan and the Haggards" came into being as a discrete ensemble during a two-year hiatus for "Big V Chord." In 2007 and 2008, Murray became the de facto leader of the group, organizing rehearsals and performances and arranging the new repertoire.

The melodies and harmonies of many of Haggard's compositions have proven themselves to be ideal vehicles for the type of music and improvisation that this quintet enjoys. ln addition to providing an atypical framework for jazz, Bryan and the Haggards have discovered that the music of Merle Haggard transcends genre and among the most important produced in America. Bryan and the Haggards' approach varies from straight-ahead jazz interpretation to total deconstruction, all while relying on the power and simplicity of the source material. This expansive musical landscape includes lyrical saxophone crooning, cascading scales, flourishes of melody, stringent noise, dissonant multiphonics, inconsistent tempi, and strong two-beat grooves, executed by five musicians with 6 years of experience playing together. The ensemble's chemistry and longevity afford them the ability to wander far and wide, always certain that they will be able to find their way home.

West Virginia native Bryan Murray began playing jazz saxophone at a young age and has devoted most of his life to studying and performing. He attended the University of Kentucky, then moved to Chicago and attended DePaul University, where he performed with jazz legends including Joe Lovano, Kenny Werner, Nicholas Payton, and recorded a live CD with Tom Harrell. Bryan also met two future Haggards at DePaul, guitarist Jon Lundbom and alto saxophonist Jon lrabagon.

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