It only takes a few moments for Mark Murphy to remind listeners why he's been one of the top vocalists in jazz for a generation. His new CD is Memories of You, a set of songs associated with the late, great Joe Williams.
It's not so much Murphy's voice, which is fine, if a little thin, as it is those intangibles that separate a singer from the pack: timing, delivery, confidence, and that unique ability to make everything swing. Over the years, Murphy has honed those skills to the point where he can swing almost effortlessly, conveying more with a whisper than most singers can with a shout. Just check, for example, his hushed approach to Ellington's "Just Squeeze Me" here. Less, with Murphy at the mic, is definitely more.
Murphy's particular brand of beatnik bebop has little in common with Williams' deep Basie blues, and he's wise to shake up his interpretations of Williams' best-known tunes, like "In the Evenin'," which he takes at a slower than slow pace, and "Everyday (I Have the Blues)," which he gives a full-on funk treatment. With backing by an exceptionally sympathetic quartet (Norman Simmons on piano, Paul Bollenbeck on guitar, Grady Tate on drums and Darryl Hall on bass), Murphy delivers a master class in jazz singing and one of the best albums of his career.
Track Listing: 1. The Comeback (Chatman) - 5:21
2. In the Evenin' (Carr/Raye) - 6:38
3. Everyday (Chatman) - 5:02
4. Memories of You (Blake/Razaf) - 5:59
5. Just Squeeze Me (Ellington/Gaines) - 4:29
6. If I Were a Bell (Loesser) - 3:06
7. Close Enough to Love (Mandel/Williams) - 4:34
8. Love You Madly (Ellington) - 3:23
9. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) (Ellington/Webster) - 5:20
10. Sposin' (Denniker/Razaf) - 3:05
11. A Man Ain't Supposed to Cry (Gimbel/Reid) - 6:25
Personnel: Bill Easley - Soprano and Tenor Sax;
Mark Murphy - Vocals;
Norman Simmons - Piano;
Grady Tate - Drums;
Paul Bollenback - Guitar;
Darryl Hall - Bass.
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!