Murphy: Music Is Love

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Like a sweet mistress it caresses his throat coming out in an assortment of high and low pitches eagerly tumbling out of his mouth via scats and trills and vocal vibrations comprised of melody, rhythm, structure, pitch, duration, tone, cadence…

 

There are some artists that live for the music and in return the music keeps them alive, rejuvenated, and tapped into the well spring of creativity.  Mark Murphy understands this. 

He is a music master that imbibes music as if it makes up his life blood. For Murphy music is a passion. It flows through every cell becoming a melodic energy that strokes his soul.  It engulfs him.  Like a sweet mistress it caresses his throat coming out in an assortment of high and low pitches eagerly tumbling out of his mouth via scats and trills and vocal vibrations comprised of melody, rhythm, structure, pitch, duration, tone, cadence, pulse, instrument, voice, passion, and love.
 
It’s clear the audience feels it since no one speaks.  They only listen.  They strain to hear every word, every tempo, every measure.  Murphy holds them captive allowing his voice to permeate, stroke, uplift, engulf, enrapture, and hold prisoner while convincing the crowd that “Love Is What Stays.�

Murphy stood upon the stage of Sweet Rhythm working his magic.  It’s clear that years of performing has taught him how to entertain his audience with humor and a songbook of musical stylings that Murphy manages to make work as he weaves a melodious tapestry comprised of scat, ballad, pop, bebop and jazz. It is Murphy’s ability to combine the various musical genres in a potpourri of harmonized musical symmetry that has earned him the reputation as a great jazz singer. 

That assertion will be put to the test via his latest CD offering, “Love Is What Stays.�  The CD project that was two years in the making is expected to be released in February 2007 via Verve/Universal.  Trumpeter Till Bronner produces while Nan Schwartz arranges and puts a new spin on ‘Stolen Moments’ that fans will be sure to love. Mark will be appearing at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola on March 13-18th where he will have his new CD available for purchase. “I can’t wait to hear what the reaction will be to this CD,� said its creator eagerly. “I did tempo variations but the ballads are prominent.  I think that is what the people want.�

“My family was musical and sang in the church choir.  One can really learn a lot from choir work.  The harmonic introductions you get via that genre are invaluable,� explained the balladeer.  “Jazz entered my life when I was about 13.  We lived in a town called Fulton and after church we would listen to opera with my grandfather.  One day my Uncle Bill played Humoresque on the record player.  Art Tatum was playing it.  I thought ‘what’s that?’  And from then on, it was just me and that music,� said Murphy recalling his first introduction to jazz.

Murphy, who hails from Syracuse, New York, was discovered by Sammy Davis Jr., and went on to play with such luminaries as Clark Terry, and David Sanborn, et al. He has composed and sung lyrics to the instrumental works of Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, McCoy Tyner, Charles Mingus, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis and there is no doubt Betty Carter and Ella Fitzgerald influenced the free style scatting that Mark has made his own.

“My music is pretty diverse.  I do everything from Brazilian songs to salsa, 70’s rock, jazz, bebop, ballad, etc.  I am a rhythm machine which I get from my mother.  My voice came from my classically trained father.  Both my parents were brought up in that revolution of culture which followed the first world war.�  Murphy explained.  “I have discovered that one has to amalgamate music and bring the entire thing together as a whole. Though new voices emerge, so much of the true understanding of the music of jazz is diminishing; there are no more Mel Tormes; no more Nat King Coles.   I am trying to teach and let people know they can learn this music, at least most of it, although it helps to come by it innately.  I am trying to teach them how to swing.  I see myself as a door opener to jazz. That is why I started with Anita O’Day because to see her sing was like watching Eleanor Powell tap dance.  Rhythm percolates out of her body. It was the same thing with Gregory Hines who created a kind of a renaissance of tap dancing.  It’s all about the rhythm whether in music or dance.  Gregory sang well.  He could do it with a soulfulness and effortlessness that was simply amazing,� said the ageless songwriter.

Scat is as natural to Mark as breathing.  He uses it while singing and it also peppers his speech when he teases his audience.  “I learned scat by studying Betty Carter and Ella and Sarah Vaughn.  I think scat got rediscovered in the 1970s with Betty Carter who was known as ‘Betty Bebop.’ In present day, Nancy King is rising up from the underground and there is a Korean fellow out in LA who is an astounding scat singer. Scat is happening all over the world. It’s in France, England and in the Netherlands. There is more interest in jazz now but there are less gigs available so jazz venues have to be created,� said the 76 year old performer who attributes his youthful appearance and amazing energy to his natural health regimen. “I have been juicing for years, taking vitamin drips and just being involved in the cleansing process.  It really works.  It’s natural and therapeutic,� says Mark. 

“I’ve been around a while and the thing about longevity is the ability to discover the joy of it. It’s the joy of giving and becoming aware.  Many people never experience joy but I am seeking to give back and bring more into my life.  It’s a cycle you know.  Realizing that comes with awareness. It’s awareness which holds the key to opening the door to true joy.�

See www.markmurphy.com for engagements and touring schedule, etc.

To send us a news scoop, a tip, or to subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to Milton@blackstarnews.com  Our motto is: “Speaking Truth To Empower.�

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