Dave McMurray

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Dave McMurray
Background information
BornDetroit, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, producer
Instrument(s)Saxophone, flute, keyboard, percussion
Years active1972–present
LabelsHip Bop, Blue Note

Dave McMurray is an American jazz musician. His primary instrument is saxophone.

Early life and career[edit]

McMurray grew up on the eastside of Detroit. The son of a working-class family, he received a scholarship through Horizons Upward Bound to attend high school at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

After graduating from Wayne State University with a degree in Urban Studies and Psychology, McMurray began working as a mental health professional.

Professional career[edit]

McMurray’s first real road gig was with Blues Master Albert King. Upon returning he started his own group ‘Midnight Sky’ and also was a member of the avant-garde jazz ensemble, Griot Galaxy. McMurray joined the pop rock group Was (Not Was) at its inception, and subsequently contributed to all of their albums.

McMurray has had an extensive career as a session musician. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he played on albums for many classic rock and blues acts, ranging from The Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan.

His first solo album, The Secret Life, was released on Timeless Records in 1989. He then was signed to Warner Bros. Records for his follow up album, 1996’s The David McMurray Show. In 2018, McMurray released Music Is Life, his Blue Note Records debut, a collection of original compositions and recognizable covers.

In 2019, McMurray performed with Bob Weir at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, the first time he was exposed to the music of the Grateful Dead. He then recorded Grateful Deadication, an album of jazz interpretations of the band’s songbook. It features appearances by Bob Weir, Bettye Lavette, and Herschel Boone. McMurray is backed on the album by bassist Ibrahim Jones, drummer Jeff Canady, guitarist Wayne Gerard, and keyboardist Maurice O’Neal. Blue Note released Grateful Deadication in July 2021.

McMurray released Grateful Deadication 2, "the follow-up to his 2021 tribute album," on May 19, 2023.[1] The album features his own Detroit-based band and special guests Jamey Johnson, Oteil Burbridge, Bob James, and Don Was.[2]

Personal life[edit]

McMurray lives in Detroit with his wife, Garzelle. They have one daughter.


As leader[edit]

  • The Secret Life (Timeless, 1989)
  • The Dave McMurray Show (Warner Bros., 1996)
  • Peace of Mind (Hip Bop, 1999)
  • Soul Searching (Hip Bop, 2001)
  • Nu Life Stories (Hip Bop, 2003)
  • Music Is Life (Blue Note, 2018)
  • Grateful Deadication (Blue Note, 2021)
  • Grateful Deadication 2 (Blue Note, 2023)[2][3]

With Griot Galaxy

  • Kins (Black & White, 1982)
  • Live at the D.I.A. (Entropy, 2003)

With Was (Not Was)

  • Was (Not Was) (Island/ZE, 1981)
  • Born to Laugh at Tornadoes (Geffen, 1983)
  • What Up, Dog? (Fontana, 1988)
  • Are You Okay? (Chrysalis, 1990)
  • Hello, Dad...I'm in Jail (Fontana, 1992)
  • Boo! (Rykodisc, 2008)

As sideman[edit]

With Bob James

  • Joy Ride (Warner Bros., 1999)
  • Morning, Noon & Night (Warner Bros., 2002)
  • Urban Flamingo (Koch, 2006)

With Kem

  • Kemistry (Motown, 2003)
  • Album II (Motown, 2005)
  • Intimacy Universal (Motown, 2010)
  • What Christmas Means (Motown, 2013)

With Kid Rock

With Millie Scott

  • Ev'ry Little Bit (4th & Broadway, 1987)
  • Love Me Right (4th & Broadway, 1987)
  • I Can Make It Good for You (4th & Broadway, 1988)

With others


  1. ^ "Dave McMurray". Davemcmurray.com. Retrieved June 22, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Grateful Deadication 2". Store.bluenote.com.
  3. ^ "Dave McMurray Albums and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved June 22, 2023.

External links[edit]