“MARK MURPHY / “Beauty And The Beast”
Was born in Syracuse, New York circa 1932 and was introduced to national audiences by Sammy Davis Jr. who heard him at a jam session in Syracuse and got Murphy a spot on the Tonight television show hosted by Steve Allen. A four time winner of Down Beat magazine’s annual Best Male Vocalist.
Murphy is a child of the Beat Generation and as such is as much a raconteur as a vocalist, bebop is in his blood and story telling is the hand he fans with. Murphy is heavily influenced by Jack Kerouac, to whom Murphy has dedicated two of his forty-some albums.
Additionally, Murphy is a major writer of lyrics for jazz classics such as Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay,” Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments,” Charlie Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” Charlie Parker’s “Parker’s Mood,” Billy Strayhorn’s “Blood Count,” and Wayne Shorter’s “Beauty And The Beast.” Murphy is arguably the foremost jazz lyricist.
As Mark makes clear in his swinging rendition of “On Green Dolphin Street,” vocalize, fitting lyrics and/or scatting to famous jazz solos is also a major part of Murphy’s expansive repertoire. His latest accomplishment has been to become one of jazz balladeers of all time.
You may not know his name or may never have heard him, but once you do, I think you too will be impressed by the Murphy’s huge ability to offer both swinging and sensitive jazz vocals whether standards or original lyrics Murphy has penned.
The selections in the jukebox cover Murphy’s artistic waterfront including Kerouac recitations, original lyrics and evocative ballads.
As he says in “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”—“for you and me the sidewalk is a history book.” There are few old hipsters left, very, very few. Mark Murphy is more than just a survivor. He continues to throw his sound into the fray, the conundrum and vicissitudes, the mundanities and mendacities that crisscross our years on earth. Once To Every Heart, Murphy’s 2005 album sponsored by and featuring German trumpeter Till Bronner is not only one of Murphy’s best, the album is also a high water mark for jazz ballad albums approaching the magnificence of the John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman album. Indeed, in the last ten years Murphy has recorded and released over ten albums—a remarkable achievement for any musician, not to mention a vocalist who is close to eighty years old.
Give him two listens. You will be surprised by the breadth of his music on the first listen. The second listen will reveal Murphy’s deeptitude (and, yes, “deeptitude” is one of my highest accolades reserved for achievements of outstanding merit).
Here in Mark Murphy we hear the wisdom of the ages, the evidence of why elders should be revered. Listen. There is nothing old and outdated in the continuing contributions from this hippest of the old skool hipsters. Hail, Mark Murphy!
“On Green Dolphin Street,” “My Ship,” and “Parker’s Mood” are from the live recording Bop For Miles (2004).
“On the Red Clay” is from Giants of Jazz: Mark Murphy (2004).
“Beauty And The Beast” is from the Beauty And The Beast (1994 - out of print) album.
"San Francisco” and “Blood Count” are from Kerouac, Then And Now (1994 - out of print).
“Ballad Of the Sad Young Men” and “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” are from BeBop For Kerouac (1994 - out of print).
“The Interview” and “Stolen Moments” are from Love Is What Stays (2007)
“When I Fall In Love/My One And Only Love” and “Skylark/You Don’t Know What Love Is” are from Once To Every Heart (2005).
“Some Other Time” is from Lucky to Be Me (2002 - out of print).
—Kalamu ya Salaam
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