LABEL: Whaling City Sound
Mixed Media Client since: 2016
Spring is here! A great song that I’ll be playing at some of my upcoming shows. Monday I’ll be performing with the featured artists on the Summer Breeze CD. If you’re in the area it would be great to see you there. They also stream live if you want to check it out online.
Also a lot of other great gigs on the horizon, including a co-led tour in the Midwest with Ray Blue, my regular hits in Staten Island and Harlem, and a performance in Brooklyn with the innovative saxophonist and inventor George Braith.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing you soon!
Apr 5 7pm
The Promontory – Greg Murphy/Ray Blue Quartet
5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West · Chicago, IL · (312) 801-2100
With: Harrison Bankhead & Marcus Evans
Apr 7 7pm Campbell Steele Gallery & Music – Ray Blue/Greg Murphy Quartet
1064 7th Ave · Marion, IA · (319) 373-9211
To view Summer Breeze’s press release, click here.
I’m happy to announce that the new album is available on iTunes and Amazon. The Radio “Add Date” is July 11th and the “Street Date” (physical CDs available) is July 29th. If you were supposed to have gotten one and haven’t received it, let me know. If you’d like to purchase a CD or receive one for promotional purposes, feel free to contact me or Whaling City Sound.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to hearing from you soon!
9pm – 1am
Paris Blues – Les Goodson Intergalactic Soul Jazz Band
2021 Adam Clayton Powell BLVD – NYC – 212.222.9878
with: John Cooksey & Don Pate
Smalls After-Hours – Eric Wyatt Quartet
183 West 10th Street · NYC · (212) 675-7369
LINER NOTES by Bill Milkowski
A prodigious talent whose keyboard pyrotechnics have ignited the bandstands of such shamanistic figures as Rashied Ali and Tisziji Muñoz, veteran pianist-composer Greg Murphy has been a firebrand on the scene since moving to New York in 1987. On his fourth outing as a leader, the Chicago native showcases a myriad of musical expressions besides the heightened, McCoy-inspired approach that has been his calling card for decades.
With a core group consisting of fiery trumpeter Josh Evans, Dee Dee Bridgewater bassist Eric Wheeler and sensational young drummer Kush Abadey — augmented on different tracks by stellar improvisers Jay Rodriguez on soprano sax, Eric Wyatt and Scott Robert Avidon on tenor saxes, Corey Wilcox on trombone, Raphael Cruz on percussion and Malou Beauvoir on vocals — Murphy explores some appealing pop material on his “A Reason to Smile” and a cover of Seals & Crofts’ ‘70s hit “Summer Breeze” while also digging into Afro-Cuban grooves (“Suspended Time”), burning hard bop (“Cedar Salad”), free jazz (“Tsk”) and a swinging blues (Sonny Rollins’ “Solid”) on his Whaling City Sound debut.
“I was playing in pop bands when I got started in Chicago, before I started getting deeply into jazz,” says the pianist-composer, who got a grant to study with Ellis Marsalis in New Orleans during the mid ‘80s. “In fact, I wrote ‘A Reason to Smile’ 30 years ago when I was in this group called Lightning Flash Thunder Roar. And I got Malou to help me with the lyrics on this new version of that tune.” Beauvoir delivers supremely soulful vocals on that mellow offering as well as on a re-imaginging of Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” which morphs into a 6/4 Afro-Cuban feel midway through. Evans shades Malou’s alluring vocals on muted trumpet throughout their inventive take on this classic bit of Ellingtonia while Cruz provides the appropriate percussive colors to give it that Latin tinge.
“Cedar Salad” is Murphy’s homage to the late, great pianist-composer Cedar Walton. “I actually ran into Cedar in the Village one day and gave him a copy of this piece I had written for him,” the pianist recalls. “My thinking behind this was to emulate the way that Cedar went into the half-step harmonic movement, from major to minor, on his classic tunes ‘Bolivia’ and ‘Ugetsu.’ In this case, it goes from the Bflat minor to the Bmajor to the F#.” Trumpeter Evans and saxophonist Wyatt provide a Messengers-like feel on the front line of this jaunty swinger while Murphy reveals his fluent hard bop chops on his impassioned solo here.
Wyatt, a longtime collaborator of Murphy’s who also happens to be the godson of Sonny Rollins, plays some robust tenor sax on the bluesy Newk vehicle “Solid” while trumpeter Evans is prominently featured on a faithful reading of the hauntingly beautiful Wayne Shorter composition “Fall,” which also has the pianist freely exploring the harmonic fabric of that evocative piece. The core trio of Murphy, Wheeler and Abadey turns in a straightforward reading of Miles Davis’ “Solar,” which is underscored by the young drummer’s briskly swinging touch on the kit. Abadey also provides some gentle brushwork and tasty cymbal colorations on Avidon’s gentle “Leo’s Lullaby” and he fires up Murphy’s modal burner “Expectations,” which features some rapid-fire exchanges of eights with the drummer, trumpeter Evans, soprano saxophonist Rodriguez and tenorist Avidon at the tag. And the drummer’s keen instincts adds to the conversation on the purely improvisational “Tsk.”
“Kush is a phenomenal young cat,” says Murphy. “He really plays beyond his years. He’s played with Wallace Roney and recently he was on the road with Ravi Coltrane. I’ve seen him down at Small’s a lot and he always sounds great. Yeah, he’s a pretty busy cat these days.”
Murphy unleashes with McCoy-esque abandon on his two uptempo workouts, “Expectations” and “No One in Particular,” and he delivers a real-deal son montuno feel on his Afro-Cuban groover “Suspended Time,” which features a pulsating bass solo from Wheeler along with an extended drum flurry at the end by Abadey.
All of Murphy’s experiences — his 20-year tenure in New York with Rashied Ali, his intensive study in New Orleans with Ellis Marsalis, his pop-funk days in Chicago, along with his Latin jazz work in Raphael Cruz’s band — come to bear on Summer Breeze, his most fully self-realized outing to date. — Bill Milkowski
Bill Milkowski is a regular contributor to Down Beat and Jazziz magazines. He is also the author of “JACO: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius” (Backbeat Books) and the recipient of the 2015 Bruce Lundvall Award presented by the Montreal Jazz Festival.