Mark Murphy: I'll Close My Eyes (1994)
Every album by Mark Murphy is a gem and I'll Close My Eyes is no exception. Starting with the title track, Murphy displays his uncanny sensitivity to the relationship between words and music by delivering a very emotional reading of the song's verse, a text that is overlooked by most performers. Added to the performance's appeal is a tasty obbligato by Brazilian trumpeter Claudio Roditi.
The song "If" is all too often a staple of karaoke bars and Holiday Inn lounge singers, but in Murphy's hands it becomes a heartfelt dissertation on the conditional nature of love. And when it comes to sheer swinging, nobody can top Murphy. This is especially evident in the seldom performed "Happyin'" where Murphy scats up a storm and is matched by an exquisite guitar solo by John Basile.
The Murphy/Roditi collaboration is also heard to great effect in the Latin swinger "Small World" (not to be confused with "It's a Small World") and in the ballad "There Is No Reason Why." The Kid Creole-ish "Ugly Woman" shows the humorous side of Murphy's artistry as he relates the tale of the ultimate male horror storyrejection by a homely member of the opposite sex.
The album ends with "Not Like This," a slow ballad about the end of a relationship, that quickly builds to an emotional crescendo before tapering off into the sonic ether. While the song's text may be correct in its assessment of romantic love, it would be so nice if every album could end "just like this." I'll Close My Eyes is a classic and should be a part of every serious jazz lover's CD collection.
Track Listing: I'll Close My Eyes; If; Happyin'; Miss You Mr. Mercer; Small World; There Is No Reason Why; Time on My Hands; Ugly Woman; Not Like This
Personnel: Mark Murphy, vocals, Sammy Figueroa, percussion; Peter Grant, drums; John Basile, guitar; Cliff Carter, keyboards; David Finck, bass; Pat Rebillot, Piano; Claudio Roditi, trumpet
Record Label: Muse Records