I am incredibly saddened to hear the news today that the great Mark Murphy has passed away. Mark Murphy is one of the most criminally underrated Jazz crooners of our time. The American vocalist was always different. Clearly a post-bop kid, Murphy was a symbol of the next wave. His work is perhaps relevant now more than ever with the current movement of cross-over crooners like Gregory Porter, Jamie Cullum and Leron Thomas. He would deliver the most incredibly radical reinterpretations of the standards where others would fall under the commercial safety of "smooth lounge" fit for hotel lobbies. Constantly stretching himself, Murphy had impressive vocal dexterity and sung with panache and great wit. Check his rendition of Freddie Hubbard's 'Red Clay' of which he renamed 'On The Red Clay' for proof. Naturally, Murphy's reputation took off in Europe before it did so in his homeland. Throughout the 60s he released a stack of classic material on British imprints. His 1967 album 'Midnight Mood' is a particular standout in my opinion. In his later years Mark would move further against the grain, exploring the work of Jack Kerouac, Brazilian music and Hard Bop. He remained as cool as ever with age and continued to perform and record well in to his 70s. His music was ahead of its time, acting as the perfect bridge for what would become the Acid Jazz movement. Classic material for Patrick Forge & Gilles Peterson's sessions at Dingwalls of which he would eventually attend and even record a song about. Mark Murphy is an absolute Jazz giant in my eyes. Rest In Peace.
Check out this fantastic mix of Mark Murphy's work curated by who other than Gilles Peterson here.