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Mark Murphy: Sings Nat King Cole... And More

Jim Santella By

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"Gee, it’s great, after bein’ out late, walkin’ my baby back home ... Hand in hand to a barbecue stand, right from her doorway we roam. Eats, and then it’s a pleasure again, walkin’ my baby back home." So goes the classic tune by Fred Ahlert and Roy Turk. When Mark Murphy sings such familiar territory, it takes on a light natural aura to which everyone can relate. Like Nat King Cole, Murphy enunciates clearly, sings accurately on every pitch, and delivers each performance in a down-home comfortable manner.

The first disc of this two-CD set includes most of Murphy’s Muse 1983 Complete Nat King Cole Songbook, Vols. 1 & 2. Each of them is performed as a duo, with either piano, guitar, or bass. The format places each artist out front in a goldfish bowl, and it’s a pleasure to enjoy these standards without clutter. The courage needed for exposing one’s talent in such a "naked" manner can only come when you’re at the top of a class of male jazz singers. Recently we lost Mel Tormé and Joe Williams. Mark Murphy carries the torch.

Drawing from Murphy’s extensive Muse output of 1973-91, this 32 Jazz compilation offers two and a half hours of eclectic material. The second disc contains more of Murphy’s spontaneity and unexpected turns. Two tracks feature Sheila Jordan with Murphy. Both songs are from their 1991 One For Junior Muse album, and both reveal the singers in great form. There are contrasts. For example, "Jamaica" includes unanticipated wordless emotion, while "Down St. Thomas Way" contains easygoing familiar pop. Murphy continues to carry on the tradition, both in new projects and through compilations such as this one. He’s laying an influence on younger male jazz singers, inspiring and insuring a deep respect for creativity.


Track Listing: Nature Boy/Calypso Blues; Love Letters/Serenata; Oh You Crazy Moon;

Personnel: Mark Murphy- vocals; Brian Lynch, Ted Curson- trumpet, flugelhorn; Claudio Roditi, Warren Gale, Randy Brecker, Tom Harrell- trumpet; Mark Levine, Slide Hampton- trombone; Richie Cole- alto saxophone; Michael Brecker, Danny Wilensky- tenor saxophone; Ronnie Cuber- baritone saxophone; Lou Lausche- violin; Joe LoDuca, Sam Brown, Bruce Forman, Harry Leahy, John Tropea, John Basile, Gene Bertoncini, David Spinozza- guitar; Kenny Barron, Smith Dobson, Mike Renzi, Bill Mays - piano; Pat Rebillot- piano, organ; Gary Schunk- piano, electric piano; David Braham, Cliff Carter, Ken Ascher- keyboards; John Cobert, Larry Fallon- synthesizers; Bob Magnusson, Michael Formanek, David Finck, Francisco Centeno, Michael Moore, Paul Breslin, Chuck Metcalf, Mark Egan, Harvie Swartz, Ron Carter- bass; Joey Baron, Ben Riley, Vince Lateano, Alan Schwartzberg, Chris Parker, Peter Grant, Grady Tate- drums; Jimmy Madison- drums, percussion; Susan Evans, John Kay, Larry Killian, Jack Gobbetti, Sammy Figueroa- percussion; Michael Spiro- congas, timbales; Sheila Jordan- vocals.

Title: Sings Nat King Cole... And More | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: 32 Records

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