"You live and you learn the rules of the road." So go Carolyn Leigh’s lyrics to Cy Coleman’s classic song. His experience gives Mark Murphy, 67, the insight to perform a romantic album his way with each song’s meaning clearly at the forefront. Make no mistake about it, this highly recommended album – a combination of slow ballads and up-tempo romps – brings out the goosebumps and leaves lingering thoughts that last for days. But Murphy also injects his fresh manner of scat-singing a tune alongside those tender moments. Long known as "a hipster’s hipster," the singer was first "discovered" by Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1953 at a jam session in Syracuse, New York - Murphy’s hometown - when the veteran singer invited the 21-year-old bopster to join him on stage. Since then Mark Murphy has never been what you’d call predictable. His dozens of recordings borrow from the beat poetry of Jack Kerouac, the soulful vocalese of Eddie Jefferson, the pretty ballads of Nat King Cole, and more.
A loping blues highlighting Benny Green’s strengths starts the session with an uplifting mood. It goes directly downhill from there into the stark realities of romance, requiring a box of tissue, a soft pillow, and a quiet moment. The title track, "Dim the Lights," sets the mood correctly with Murphy’s lyrics about looking back at memories of what could have been. Bill Evans’ "Two Lonely People" offers deep dramatic insight, while Hein Van De Geyn’s "North Sea Night" paints a picture of lasting desire, and Peggy Lee’s lyrics from "I’m In Love Again" remind us that we’ve seen all that before and look forward to better days. They’re sad songs with a lot to think about. A trilogy of "Beautiful Love," "Lullaby of the Leaves" and "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" is performed by multi-tracking the three tunes on top of each other, blending them proportionately with lyrics and scat singing. The trilogy adds a light touch to the album and serves to represent the mixed feelings we sometimes get from relationships. As the session nears the end, "Corcovado" bounces a little to brighten up the day with Gene Lees’ lyrics about being happy together again. Murphy and Green stir the emotions and provide an opportunity to just sit back and let yourself go.
Personnel: Mark Murphy- vocals; Benny Green- piano.