Back in the '80s, Paul Murphy developed a cult following as the U.K. DJ who fueled the parties at the WAG Club's Jazz Room. By drawing heavily on the soul-jazz and hard bop records of the '50s and '60s, he developed something of an underground dance craze, one that ran parallel to Northern soul and one that got big enough to attract patrons as prominent as Jerry Dammers of the Specials. A record called The Jazz Club presented highlights from these swinging parties and Murphy continued to DJ outside of the WAG Club, but the trend faded away by the early '90s and, along with it, so did Murphy. Many years later, producer Dean Rudland eventually reconnected with Murphy via Facebook, a rekindling that led to this Ace compilation from 2014. The Return of Jazz Club: Dancefloor Classics from the Original Jazz Dance DJ is a 15-track collection culled from the Prestige and Riverside vaults, emphasizing the same kind of swinging, danceable jazz Murphy spun during the '80s. There are recognizable names, including several not normally associated with dance -- Thelonious Monk, Red Garland, and Sonny Rollins commonly aren't thought of as groove mongers -- but Murphy finds sides with a nice spring in the beat, then threads in a bunch of sprightly, stylish soul-jazz (Freddie McCoy's "Spider Man," Kenny Burrell & Jack McDuff's "Grease Monkey"), while excavating a few cuts that themselves were throwbacks to a swing era (Bennie Green's "Hiyo Silver"). There are familiar names, sometimes represented by fairly well-known recordings (Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm" is one of his signatures), sometimes showcased with something a little more obscure, but this disc isn't about rarities nor is it an introduction to a style: it's all about the beat, it's all about danceable jazz. It's meant to be a party and it is one.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine