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What a Way to Go is another in a long line of masterful CDs by the master of vocal jazz, Mark Murphy. Ballads predominate, and the arrangements by Larry Fallon are lush and make good use of synthesizers to make up for the lack of a string orchestra.
One of the best things about Mark Murphy is that you can always expect the singer to deliver the unexpected. Sometimes ballads swing and time charts are slowed down to ballad tempos. A case in point is the ballad “I Fall in Love Too Easily” which features an intense Murphy vocal accompanied by a full-throated sax obbligato by Danny Wilensky.
Some may familiar with Rebecca Parris’ hard-driving interpretation of the ballad “All My Tomorrows.” Murphy’s version is much more subdued and features a another sax solo by Wilensky. Other tunes receive a remarkable transformation in Murphy’s hands. “Clown in My Window,” ends up sounding like a jazz waltz version of Burton Lane’s old standard “Too Late Now.” “Jamaica,” a light tune that sounds like it came right out of the Rippingtons playbook, has the singer scatting up a storm.
The album concludes with “Ding Walls,” a fast-paced spoken dialogue set to rhythm section vamping. It tells the humorous tale of Murphy once trying to locate a jazz dance club during his expatriate years in London. In conclusion, if your idea of vocal jazz goes beyond “Mack the Knife” in the key of Bb, What a Way to Go is the way to go for you.
Track Listing: What a Way to Go; Ceora Lives; I Fall in Love Too Easily; Saxophone Joe; All My Tomorrows; Jamaica; I Never Noticed Until Now; Clown in My Window; Ding Walls
Personnel: Mark Murphy, vocals; Chris Parker, drums; Pat Rebillot, piano; Allan Schwartzberg, drums; David Spinozza, guitar; Danny Wilensky, sax; Francisco Centeno, bass; Jon Cobert, synthesizer; Larry Fallon, synthesizer; Sammy Figueroa, percussion; John Kaye, percussion
Year Released: 1990
| Record Label: Mujse Records
| Style: Vocal
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.