All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Mark Murphy: A Beautiful Friendship: Remembering Shirley Horn

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
In his time, vocalist Mark Murphy has been described as hip, cool, swinging, fearless, gruff, and eccentric (among other things). Some— but most definitely not all—of these terms could also be applied to Shirley Horn. So it's fitting that Murphy should pay tribute to his compatriot, as he does on A Beautiful Friendship: Remembering Shirley Horn, even though Murphy acknowledges that the two vocal legends didn't know each other too well.

This four-track vinyl EP (accompanied by a download code) was first envisioned by pianist/arranger George Mesterhazy, who had worked with Horn and Murphy but died before the project was completed, so it was left to Murphy's manager, Jean-Pierre Leduc, and Gearbox Records' Darrel Sheinman to produce what became a tribute to Horn and Mesterhazy.

So what of Murphy in 2013—or more accurately, Murphy in November, 2012, when this disc was recorded at the Merrion Inn, Cape May, New Jersey? To paraphrase (very loosely) the lyrics of Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke's "But Beautiful": he's funny, sad, quiet, mad, cool, hip, lonely, dark, swinging and romantic—and all this in just four songs and 20 minutes.

Murphy's musical collaborators—pianist Alex Minasian, bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Steve Williams (Horn's percussionist for 25 years)—are in sync with the singer's mood and phrasing on every song. Murphy the laidbaxk hipster is in evidence from the opening bar of "A Beautiful Friendship," his cool bop-inspired phrasing matched by Williams and Lundy. It's the end of a beautiful friendship, but the twist is, of course, that friendship is being replaced with love: Murphy relishes this, barely hiding his delight before the twist is revealed.

On "But Beautiful," Murphy's vocal is a perfect combination of cool and romance. He takes the song at a slow, considered pace, unhurried and relaxed, savoring each syllable. Guest trumpeter Till Bronner—an old collaborator of Murphy's who produced Love Is What Stays (Verve Music Group, 2007)—adds a crisp, economical solo that enhances the mood established by Murphy. This mood changes with Cole Porter's "Get Out Of Town." Murphy's tone becomes darker, almost threatening, as he shifts between declaring love, worrying about heartbreak, and issuing the order to leave: Williams' snare drum punctuation and Brönner's muted trumpet add to the menace until Brönner's solo temporarily breaks the tension with a few bars of swing.

Murphy closes with Artie Butler and Phylis Molinary's "Here's To Life," a duet with the excellent Minasian. It's a celebration of life, of "the dreamers and their dreams," but Murphy brings his 81 years of experience to the lyric and tempers the celebration with regret. He's not done yet, though—"As long as I'm still in the game I want to play," he sings. The result is extraordinarily affecting.

Four songs, four lessons in how to sing. Murphy shows how to craft a vocal and make every syllable sound like it was written about no-one else but him. A superb tribute, from a fine singer who's most assuredly still in the game.

Track Listing: A Beautiful Friendship; But Beautiful; Get Out Of Town; Here's To Life.

Personnel: Mark Murphy: vocals; Alex Minasian: piano; Curtis Lundy: double bass (1- 3); Steve Williams: drums (1-3); Till Brönner : trumpet (2, 3).

Title: A Beautiful Friendship: Remembering Shirley Horn | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Gearbox Records


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read All Melody CD/LP/Track Review
All Melody
by Phil Barnes
Published: March 23, 2018
Read The Future is Female CD/LP/Track Review
The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Hunters & Scavengers CD/LP/Track Review
Hunters & Scavengers
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow CD/LP/Track Review
Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 22, 2018
Read Transatlantic CD/LP/Track Review
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 22, 2018
Read "Short Notice" CD/LP/Track Review Short Notice
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "Living In Twilight" CD/LP/Track Review Living In Twilight
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Atody Man" CD/LP/Track Review Atody Man
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 9, 2018
Read "Burn The Boat" CD/LP/Track Review Burn The Boat
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Code Noir" CD/LP/Track Review Code Noir
by James Nadal
Published: March 27, 2017
Read "Parting the Veil" CD/LP/Track Review Parting the Veil
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 15, 2018