Live at the Senator

Mike Murley

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Live at the Senator Review

by Dave Nathan

This trio of excellent Canadian musicians had been together for a couple of years when captured in a live performance from the Top of the Senator, one of Toronto's jazz venues. The album features standards plus some Mike Murley originals. Murley's sax, which leads the group, is definitely from the Lester Young school with a Stan Getz tone. With his handling of such tunes as "I Should Care," the young tenor man has obviously heeded Young's injunction that to play a song with feeling, you have to know its lyrics. Murley is accompanied on this set by two mainstays of Canadian jazz, both well-known to jazz fans in the United States. With many a fine recording under his belt, guitarist Ed Bickert had been on the scene for years, and Steve Wallace, keeping matters in hand on bass, had worked with the likes of Sam Noto and Kirk McDonald.

The album presents a balanced mix of slower paced and up-tempo material. On the former, one of the album's highlights is a fresh and entertaining look at the old saw "Golden Earrings." The extemporaneous treatment given this tune by Murley and then Bickert breathes new life into a song that has been moribund for a while. "It's All Right With Me" is a good example of an up-tempo performance done with verve and taste. The light, delicate tone of Murley's sax combined with Bickert's intelligent, lyrical guitar playing will bring back memories of those elegant meetings between Paul Desmond and Jim Hall for RCA Victor between 1959 and 1965. This album makes for nice listening and is recommended.

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