The cover of Mark Murphy's Love is What Stays features a tight close-up of the 75-year-old singer staring unflinchingly into the camera, the ravages of age clear on his face. It's a fitting counterpart to the music inside, which fearlessly confronts the passage of time from the vantage point of one considering his own mortality.
Produced in Berlin by trumpeter Till Bronner with lush string arrangements on several tunes, the album covers an astoundingly wide range of materialfrom Alan Jay Lerner to Johnny Cash to Coldplayall delivered by Murphy in a whiskey-laced baritone that has grown somewhat gruffer over the years but has not lost its youthful vigor. Among many highlights are Murphy's breakneck bebop improvisations on the opening version of "Stolen Moments (one of three takes on the Oliver Nelson classic with lyrics by Murphy); a loose, darting treatment of the standard "Angel Eyes ; a guest solo by another ageless jazz wonder, alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, on "My Foolish Heart ; the glacially slow, but heartfelt interpretation of Cash's "So Doggone Lonesome ; and the spoken-word musings of an aging artist in "The Interview. Murphy's impeccable timing and musical intelligence save even tunes like "Once Upon A Summertime and the closing "Did I Really Live that might come off as maudlin in the hands of lesser singers.
It's a stirring performance and a capstone to the career of one of the most important jazz vocalists of his generation.
Track Listing: Stolen Moments; Angel Eyes; My Foolish Heart; So Doggone Lonesome; What If; Interview; Once Upon a Summertime; Stolen Moments (1st Reprise); Love Is What Stays; Stolen Moments (2nd Reprise); Too Late Now; Blue Cell Phone; Did I Ever Really Live.
Personnel: Mark Murphy: vocal, piano; Frank Chastenier: piano; Christian Von Kaphengst: bass (1-7, 9-11, 13); Sebastian Merk: drums (1-7, 9-11, 13); Peter Weniger: tenor saxophone (1, 6, 10); Kal Bruckner: guitar (1, 4); Gregoire Peters; flute, bass clarinet (1-2, 10, 13); Till Bronner: trumpet, flugelhorn (1-2, 4-7, 9-10, 13); Johan Leijonhufvud: alto saxophone (2), Lee Konitz: alto saxophone (3).
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.