November 2004

Mark Murphy
Bop for Miles
HighNote Records

Though it is, of course, wonderful to hear anything new from Mark Murphy, the long-overdue release of his Bop for Miles (HighNote) is a particularly sublime treat. Recorded live in Vienna in 1990 these 10 tracks capture Murphy-not only jazz's greatest male jazz singer of the past half-century but also its most intelligent, articulate, imaginative innovator-at his free-form finest. Murphy's purpose here, to shape a multishaded salute to Miles Davis, is exquisitely met as he travels from a sinfully vibrant "All Blues" to a blistering "Milestones" with stops along the way for swooping, soaring, scatting treatments of "Autumn Leaves," "Summertime," "My Ship," "Bye Bye Blackbird" "Farmer's Market" and "On Green Dolphin Street" (the latter trimmed with a three-minute a cappella intro that defies gravity). As a bonus, there's a 1999 studio recording of Murphy's "Miles," a three-minute portrait that simultaneously dissects and exalts Davis' genius better than a shelf-full of biographies. (By the way, as long as we're digging up Murphy gems, how 'bout a twofer reissue of his impossible-to-find, mid-'60s Fontana albums Mark Time! and A Swingin', Singin' Affair ?)

Originally published in November 2004

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