Mark Murphy (singer)
Mark Murphy (1975)
March 14, 1932|
Syracuse, New York, U.S.
|Origin||Fulton, New York, U.S.|
|Died||October 22, 2015
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
|Associated acts||Jack Teagarden, Eddie Jefferson, Jon Hendricks, Sheila Jordan|
Mark Howe Murphy (March 14, 1932 – October 22, 2015) was an American jazz singer based in New York City. He was known for his use of vocalese and vocal improvisations with both melody and lyrics. He was the recipient of the 1996, 1997, 2000, and 2001 Down Beat magazine readers jazz poll for Best Male Vocalist of the Year and also the recipient of six Grammy award nominations for Best Vocal Jazz Performance. He wrote original lyrics to the jazz tunes "Stolen Moments" and "Red Clay".
Born in Syracuse, New York, in 1932, Murphy was raised in a musical family, his parents having met as members of the local Methodist Church choir. He grew up in the nearby small town of Fulton, New York, where his grandmother and then his aunt were the church organists. Opera was also a presence in the Murphy home. He started piano lessons at the age of seven.
Murphy joined his brother's jazz dance band as the singer when a teenager, citing influences from Nat "King" Cole, June Christy, Anita O'Day, and Ella Fitzgerald. The Jazz pianist Art Tatum was also an influence.
Murphy graduated from Syracuse University in 1953, majoring in Music and Drama. University life included performing on campus and also in a club – playing piano and singing.
In 1954, Murphy moved to New York City, working part-time as an actor and singer. He appeared in productions for the Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company and a musical version for television of Casey at the Bat. Also, he twice took second place at the Apollo Theatre amateur contests.
The first albums
Murphy was eventually introduced to record producer Milt Gabler, who was an artist and repertoire director (A & R) for Decca. His resulting debut recording was Meet Mark Murphy (1956), followed closely by Let Yourself Go (1957).
In 1958, Murphy moved to Los Angeles and recorded for Capitol Records, but he returned to New York in the early '60s and recorded the album Rah! (1961) on Riverside Records, performing "Angel Eyes", a version of Horace Silver's "Doodlin'", and "Green Dolphin Street", featuring Bill Evans, Clark Terry, Urbie Green, Blue Mitchell and Wynton Kelly as accompanists. His favorite recording to date, That's How I Love the Blues, soon followed. In 1963, Murphy hit the charts across the country with his single of "Fly Me to the Moon" and was voted New Star of the Year in Down Beat Magazine's Reader's Poll.
The Muse albums
In 1963 Murphy moved to London, England, where he worked primarily as an actor, and appeared in the 1967 British comedy film Just Like a Woman. He continued, however, to cultivate his jazz audiences in Europe, singing in clubs and on the radio. He returned to the States in 1972 and began recording an average of an album a year for more than 14 years on the Muse label. These projects - including the albums Nat King Cole Songbook Vol. I and II, Bop for Kerouac, Kerouac Then And Now, Living Room, Satisfaction Guaranteed, Beauty And the Beast and, Stolen Moments - gained numerous Grammy nominations. This last album contains Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments" with lyrics by Murphy.
In 1984 together with Viva Brasil he recorded the album Brazil Song (Cancões do Brasil), which featured original material written by Brazilian songwriters including work by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Milton Nascimento.
In 1987, Murphy recorded Night Mood, an album of songs by Brazilian composer Ivan Lins, followed by the Grammy-nominated September Ballads on Milestone Records. Murphy has also appeared on UFO's last two releases (for Polydor Records), in which he wrote and rapped lyrics on songs composed with the group. This collaboration opened up further new audiences in the acid-jazz and hip-hop genres, demonstrating jazz's timelessness while transcending generations and styles.
In August 1997, BMG/RCA Victor released Song For The Geese, for which he has received his sixth Grammy nomination. Also in August 1997, the 32 Records label Joel Dorn and Michael Bourne released a double CD anthology Stolen and Other Moments, which features some of his recordings for the now defunct Muse label. The CD features material from the two "Kerouac" albums and a selection of "the best of Mark Murphy".
Murphy’s release Once to Every Heart (2005), on the Verve label, features sensuous ballads, where the listener can capture him singing in top form, with superb musicians and sounding better than ever. In 2007 Love is What Stays was released on Verve. Both albums were produced by German trumpeter Till Brönner.
Murphy has also collaborated with Tenth & Parker, a modern UK electronica/acid jazz group on their Twenty:Twelve (2001) album; plus the Five Corners Quintet, a modern Finnish jazz band. He appears on their albums Chasin' the Jazz Gone By (2005) and Hot Corner (2008).
In 2010 he released the independently produced CD, Never Let Me Go, on which he is supported by pianist Misha Piatigorsky, bassist Danton Boller and drummer Chris Wabich. A limited edition EP/MP3, A Beautiful Friendship: Remembering Shirley Horn on Gearbox Records, was released in 2013.
Murphy also participated as a guest on The Royal Bopsters Project by Amy London, Darmon Meader, Dylan Pramuk, and Holli Ross; released in 2015 by Motema Music.
Murphy continued to tour internationally into his 80s, appearing at festivals, concerts, in jazz clubs and on television programs, throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan, as well as other places. John Bush at AllMusic.com described Murphy as "a major name in vocal jazz." A longtime resident of the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, he died there on October 22, 2015.
- 1956 Meet Mark Murphy (Decca)
- 1957 Let Yourself Go (Decca)
- 1959 This Could Be the Start of Something Big (Capitol)
- 1960 Mark Murphy's Hip Parade (Capitol)
- 1960 Playing the Field (Capitol)
- 1961 Rah! (Riverside)
- 1962 That's How I Love the Blues! (Riverside)
- 1965 Swingin' Singin' Affair (Fontana)
- 1966 Who Can I Turn To & 11 Other Great Standards (Immediate)
- 1967 Midnight Mood (Saba)
- 1970 This Must Be Earth (Phoenix)
- 1972 Bridging a Gap (Muse)
- 1973 Mark II (Muse)
- 1975 Mark Murphy Sings...On the Red Clay, Naima and Other Great Songs (Muse)
- 1977 Mark Murphy Sings Mostly Dorothy Fields & Cy Coleman (Audiophile)
- 1978 Stolen Moments (Muse)
- 1979 Satisfaction Guaranteed (Muse)
- 1981 Bop for Kerouac (Muse)
- 1982 The Artistry of Mark Murphy (Muse)
- 1983 Brazil Song (Cancões Do Brasil) (Muse)
- 1983 Mark Murphy Sings the Nat King Cole Songbook, Volume One (Muse)
- 1983 Mark Murphy Sings Nat's Choice: The Nat King Cole Songbook, Volume Two (Muse)
- 1984 Living Room (Muse)
- 1986 Beauty and the Beast (Muse)
- 1986 Kerouac, Then and Now (Muse)
- 1987 Night Mood: The Music of Ivan Lins (Milestone)
- 1988 September Ballads (Milestone)
- 1990 What a Way to Go (Muse)
- 1991 I'll Close My Eyes (Muse)
- 1991 One for Junior (w/Sheila Jordan) (Muse)
- 1995 The Dream (w/Metropole Orchestra) (Jive)
- 1996 Shadows (TCB Music)
- 1996 North Sea Jazz Sessions, Volume 5 (recorded 1970–1974) (Jazz World)
- 1997 Song for the Geese (RCA Victor)
- 1999 Some Time Ago (HighNote)
- 2000 The Latin Porter (a tribute to Cole Porter) (Go Jazz)
- 2000 Links (HighNote)
- 2001 Lucky to Be Me (HighNote)
- 2003 Memories of You: Remembering Joe Williams (HighNote)
- 2004 Bop for Miles (recorded 1990 and 1999) (HighNote)
- 2004 Dim the Lights (w/Benny Green) (Millennium)
- 2005 Once to Every Heart (Verve)
- 2006 Love Is What Stays (Verve)
- 2010 Never Let Me Go (self-produced/released by Mark Murphy Productions)
- 2013 A Beautiful Friendship: Remembering Shirley Horn (Gearbox)
- 2013 Another Vision (recorded 1992) (Edel)
- 1997 Stolen...And Other Moments (32 Jazz) 2-CD set
- 1998 Jazz Standards (32 Jazz) 2-CD set
- 1999 Songbook (32 Jazz) 2-CD set
- 1999 Mark Murphy Sings Nat King Cole...and More (32 Jazz) 2-CD set
With Madeline Eastman
- 1991 "You're the Dangerous Type" – from Mad About Madeline! (Mad Kat)
With Till Brönner
- 2002 "Dim the Lights" – from Blue Eyed Soul (Universal)
With Gill Manly
- 2009 "I Keep Goin' Back to Joe's" – from With a Song in My Heart (Linn)
- 2009 "I'll Walk Alone"/"Then I'll Be Tired of You"/"Taking a Chance on Love"/"I Wish You Love" – from Songs from the Last Century (Bee Jazz)
With The Five Corners Quintet
- 2008 "Kerouac Days in Montana"/"Come and Get Me"/"Layers of Layers" – from Hot Corner (Ricky-Tick Records)
- John Fordham, "Mark Murphy obituary", The Guardian, 27 October 2015.
- Bush, John. "Mark Murphy: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Longe, Suzanne (2009-07-31). "Mark Murphy: Inside the Mystery". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Matt Schudel, "Mark Murphy, jazz singer of freewheeling virtuosity, dies at 83", The Washington Post, October 24, 2015.
- "Mark Murphy", AllAboutJazz.
- ABC News. "Legendary Jazz Vocalist Mark Murphy Dies in New Jersey at 83". ABC News.
- Roberts, Sam. "Mark Murphy, an Unconventional Jazz Vocalist, Dies at 83", The New York Times, October 25, 2015. Accessed October 26, 2015. "Mark Murphy, an iconoclastic jazz vocalist who drew inspiration from such varied sources as the sound of his hometown factory whistle and the words of the Beat novelist Jack Kerouac, died on Thursday in Englewood, N.J.... Mr. Murphy died at the Lillian Booth Actors Home, where he had been living for several years."
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