The interrogative title of this fine track shares an interesting insight, as well as its supposition. Whether the late singer literally did buy into UFOsa la Sun Ra who saw "space as the place"or he didn't is irrelevant. What is key is the fact that Mark Murphy has had a definitive and lasting impact on jazz vocalists todayand very much so on the High Prince of sing-speak, Tony Adamo who salutes Murphy on this infectious single. Further, the savvy integration of Michael Franks' "Don't Be Blue" into the performance adds encouragement and a positive sheen on the proceedings. It's a brilliant production choice.
Adamo, the ultimate hipster's hipster, is dead on his game on this hip-hop grooved masterpiece. Brilliantly performed and laid down over a killer rhythm, Adamo speaks "jazz gospel" and offers verbal high praise to Murphy by way of his own poetics about Murphy's verbiage on Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments." (Murphy wrote a well-known version of lyrics for the classic tune.)
With Adamo, words are playthings to be grabbed, toyed, rhymed, and seasoned with dynamic and emotional sugar and spice. He does that aplenty here. His baritone when both sing-speaking and vocalizing is robust and very much in the forefront. No wallflower he, Adamo invites you in to a world of hipness where there's no escapeonly sizzling electricity. His slugging in his usual historical references to the great names and places of jazz (Bird, Miles, Birdland) are present here, as well.
The rhythm bed is fiercely energetic and doesn't swallow up Adamo's perf like Jonah's whale. Rather, it incessantly drives and picks the "pocket" like a fidgety honor graduate of "The School of the Seven Bells."
Assuredly, Adamo, like his honoree, may be an acquired taste. However, it would be well worth stretching and enhancing one's aural skills by stealing this five minutes-plus out of one's time-strapped real-world day to grab buds and dig this slick effort. It is a UFO in and of itselfan "Utterly Fine Outing."
Did Mark Murphy Believe In UFOS?
Tony Adamo: vocal, scatting, hip spoken word; Jean C. Santalis: guitar; Barry Schiffman: music