Chris Murphy

On a Blue Afternoon

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The best of a series of conceptually connected albums released by Kufala Recordings in 2004-2005, On a Blue Afternoon, subtitled "Jazz Violin Music," sets Chris Murphy's violin in front of a basic small-combo rhythm section consisting of bassist David J. Carpenter and drummer D.J. Bonebrake. (Yes, the guy from X, who's always been a jazz player at heart.) There's nothing fancy on this set of Murphy/Carpenter originals; Murphy's jazz-based playing is closer to Joe Venuti's classical-influenced swing than Stephane Grappelli's earthy, gypsy-influenced, folk-based style, and the overall feel of the album is of the laid-back West Coast cool school. That said, it's rarely merely pretty, and several tracks -- particularly the graceful "Orange Then Blue," which features some gorgeous pizzicato passages -- have melodies that would stand up to fuller arrangements. The jazz violin trio will always be a specialist's taste, but On a Blue Afternoon is strong enough to be of interest to a wider audience.

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