Murray, Albert Lee

Murray, Albert Lee,

1916–2013, American essayist, novelist, and critic, b. Nokomis, Ala., grad. Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee Univ.; B.S., 1939) and New York Univ. (M.A., 1948). Murray enlisted in the Army Air Corps (1943–45) during World War II, and later reenlisted (1951–62), retiring from the U.S. Air Force as a major. In the postwar period, Murray was among the black intelligentsia debating the role of African-American culture in American life and became good friends with Ralph EllisonEllison, Ralph
(Ralph Waldo Ellison), 1914–94, African-American author, b. Oklahoma City; studied Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee Univ.). Originally a trumpet player and aspiring composer, he moved (1936) to New York City, where he met Langston Hughes, who became his
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 and Romare BeardenBearden, Romare
, 1911–88, American painter and collagist, b. Charlotte, N.C. Bearden grew up in Harlem and studied at New York Univ. and the Art Students League, New York City.
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. Murray insisted that integration, not black separatism, was necessary and inevitable, and that the black experience was already a vital part of American culture. The essays in his first book, The Omni-Americans: New Perspectives on Black Experience and American Culture (1970), argued against black nationalism. Among his other books are the nonfiction Stomping the Blues (1976), and a series of semiautobiographical novels, beginning with Train Whistle Guitar (1974). A lifelong devotee of jazz, Murray collaborated with Count BasieBasie, Count
(William Basie) , 1904–84, American jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer, b. Red Bank, N.J. After working in dance halls and vaudeville in New York City, Basie moved to Kansas City, a major jazz center.
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 on his autobiography (1985) and played a vital part, along with Wynton MarsalisMarsalis, Wynton
, 1961–, American trumpeter, bandleader, and composer, b. New Orleans. Born into a distinguished jazz family, he studied classical music at the Juilliard School in New York.
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, in the creation of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Bibliography

See A. Murray and J. F. Callahan, ed., Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray (2000).

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