Mark Murphy

Some Time Ago

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One either loves Mark Murphy's style or one does not. The veteran vocalist is at his best when scatting, Jon Hendricks-like, on flat-out bebop numbers such as Tadd Dameron's "There's No More Blue Time" and Oscar Pettiford's "Bohemia After Dark." On the other hand, he seems a little rough-edged and indelicate on ballads such as Jimmy Rowles's "Peacocks" and Cy Coleman's "With Every Breath I Take." Murphy is a highly musical, expressive singer, but his voice just isn't that pretty. The ballads accentuate that fact. Tearing it up on a breakneck version of "That Old Black Magic," however, Murphy leaves other singers in the dust. He's ambitious enough to tackle tunes by two heady hard bop pianists, James Williams and Cedar Walton: "You're My Alter Ego" and "Life's Mosaic," respectively. Murphy is also moving on an achingly slow version of Sergio Mihanovich's gem of a waltz, "Some Time Ago," as well as the closing medley, "Why Was I Born/I'm a Fool to Want You." Murphy's band is simply killing. Pianist Lee Musiker handles arranging duties and solos deftly throughout. Trumpeter Dave Ballou and altoist Allan Mezquida play superbly, as do drummer Winard Harper and alternating bassists Sean Smith and Steve LaSpina. Hip and adventurous, yet always tasteful, the band makes these tunes come alive as much as Murphy does.

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