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Pianist Greg Murphy can burn with the best of them.
An experienced improviser, composer, arranger and teacher, Greg Murphy has led, directed and performed with various groups throughout the world for the past three decades. Maxwell Chandler of JazzPolice.com writes in a 2009 review of Rashied Ali Quintet’s Live in Europe: “Throughout the album Greg Murphy’s piano possesses a cerebral element which allows for shimmering smoke and discordant percussive runs while never becoming overly fragile or sounding as if merely hitting the keys hard and fast.” In a 2007 review of Greg’s CD, Orientation, Charles Winokoor of Cadence Magazine writes “…throw a tongue-twisting, rapid-fire chart at this son of a gun and watch out-he can burn with the best of them. And did I mention his band is the embodiment of liquid flame? Well they are, and so is Murphy, which is why one should keep posted.”
Greg began his musical adventures in 1971 when he joined the Ray-Fisk Grammar School Band in Chicago. His classical studies began later that year with Lucia Santini at Roosevelt University. Between 1980 and 1984, he played with the jazz/funk band LFTR, The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Big Band, The Northern Illinois University (NIU) Big Band, and other local Chicago bands.
A jazz study grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1984 gave Greg the opportunity to go New Orleans and study with the eminent pianist and jazz educator, Ellis Marsalis. He remained there and began recording and performing with The New Orleans Jazz Couriers, Percussion Incorporated, and his own group, The Fusicians. The Percussion Incorporated album, Drum Talk, was recorded and released in 1987. While living in the crescent city, Greg performed with Donald Harrison, Wynton Marsalis, and countless other great musicians.
Greg moved to New York in 1987 and began what had become a long association with multi-directional drummer, Rashied Ali. Greg performed and recorded with Ali and his various groups throughout Europe, Canada, the United States and beyond, from 1987 until Rashied passed away in 2009. Below are some additional highlights of Greg’s career:
1989 - Performed in Tokyo, Japan with his trio, and toured the United States with a quartet. 1990 - Ornette Coleman asked Greg to put together a rhythm section to work on Coleman’s new jazz-funk original music, which resulted in a successful debut performance in New York. Toured France with Rashied Ali in a group featuring Carlos Santana and Archie Shepp. Led a septet (Club Bird Jazz All Stars) in Yokohama, Japan. 1991 - Performed solo in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada--where he was born. Studied in New York City with Ron Carter and Jaki Byard at City College and The Manhattan School of Music, as well as privately with Larry Willis and Walter Bishop Jr. 1995 - Meditations with Rashied Ali and Prima Materia was recorded - Knitting Factory Works. 1996 - Bells with Rashied Ali and Prima Materia - recorded on the Knitting Factory Works label. 1999 - A Mano by Raphael Cruz was released on the Worldbeat Records label. Heart Sound with Tisziji Munoz was released on the Anami Records label. 2001 - No One in Particular with Rashied Ali was released on the Survival Records label where Greg wrote the title tune. 2004 - Let’s Get Started, his first recording as a leader, was released on Murphasaurus Records. 2005 - Performed for two months in Shanghai, Peoples Republic of China. 2006 - Graduated from New Jersey City University with a Bachelors of Music Degree in Jazz Performance, studying piano and arranging with Allen Farnham and Pete McGuiness. Orientation was released on the Murphasaurus Records label. Judgment Day Vol. 1 and Judgment Day Vol. 2 by The Rashied Ali Quintet were released on the Survival Records label. 2007 - Greg worked closely with Rashied and his company Survival Records, helping with tour organization, publicity, promotion, distribution, website development and administration. 2008 - Time Travel by Raphael Cruz was released on the RC Records label. Greg launched a new online mp3 store called JazzIntensity.com. 2009 - Live in Europe by the Rashied Ali Quintet was released on the Survival Records label, and the website Rashiedali.org was launched. Led his own groups at Sweet Rhythm, Smalls, Zinc Bar and other venues in NYC. 2010 - Directed and performed with The Ignacio Moran Trio at the Philippine International Jazz Festival, and also performed six nights at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manila. Led his own groups at The Blue Note, Smalls, and Fat Cat in New York City. 2011 - Led his own groups at the Westfield (NJ) Jazz Festival,) Smalls, Fat Cat, and monthly solo piano performances at Lorenzo’s at the Hilton Garden Inn in Staten Island. 2012 – In addition to performing frequently as a side man for various artists, Greg led his own groups at the Westfield (NJ) Jazz Festival, Casa Dante (Jersey City) Smalls, Fat Cat, as well as monthly solo piano performances at Lorenzo’s.
Greg also performed the theme song “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” for the HBO documentary “Redemption,” which was produced and directed by Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill. Redemption received a 2013 Academy Award nomination for best documentary short.
Some of the other people Greg has played with are: Muhammad Ali, Barry Altshul, Wes Anderson, Mickey Bass, Cindy Blackman, Terrence Blanchard, T. K. Blue, Hammiet Blueitt, Don Braden, George Braithwait, John Brown, Iris Chacon, Alan Chase, Ravi Coltrane, Harry Connick, Jr., Jesse Davis, Steve Davis, Andy Eulau, Flava Flav, Al Foster, Mat Garrison, Charles Gayle, Victor Goines, Ray Gomez, Roy Hargrove, Winard Harper, Vincent Herring, Tim Horner, David Jensen, Victor Jones, Frank Lacey, Joe Lovano, Branford and Delfayo Marsalis, Christian McBride, Charles McPherson, Tyler Mitchell, Grachan Moncur, III, T. S. Monk, Wilbur Morris, Steve Neil, Charles Nevile, William Parker, Don Pate, C. C. Peniston, Arthur Rhames, Larry Ridley, Dale Robbins, Jay Rodriguez, Antoine Roney, Bill Saxton, Ron Sutton, Lew Tabackin, Arthur Taylor, James Blood Ulmer, Reginald Veal, Bill Ware, David S. Ware, Alyson Williams, Willie Williams, Frank Wright, Al & Ruth Wright, Eric Wyatt, and Kiani Zawadi.