Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy Sings Nat King Cole & More

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This double-disc collection of Mark Murphy's performances of music associated with Nat King Cole is compiled from nearly two decades of recordings beginning in 1972 and ending in 1991. 32 Jazz was a label established by legendary jazz producer Joel Dorn, originally to reissue some of his own production work for Atlantic. It is long defunct. As for these 34 tunes, Murphy is one of the great jazz singers of the 20th century. He brought a beat generation sense of cool and experimentation to standards without ever losing the nuances and carefully collected vocal skills that come from the jazz tradition. Cole was a consummate vocal stylist, and cannot be truly imitated by anyone. Thankfully, Murphy doesn't try. Instead, he offers new -- and sometimes radical -- interpretations of the music associated with Cole, a fine example is "Nature Boy" in a medley with "Calypso Blues." It begins in a strange way with a distorted cello that is not dissonant so much as a great surprise instead of a piano or a bassline. Most of Murphy's liberties, however, extend the reach of these songs in the jazz canon. They look through tradition and outside it for expression, and in his gorgeous, somewhat grainy baritone, he does the material justice far more often than he simply misses the mark, and pulls to the breaking point of a song's own margins. While this collection is not readily available, the material on it can be found on many Murphy compilations. As for an introduction to the singer, one would be better served by Rah!.

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