John Murph

John’s Contributions

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November 2008    Artist Profiles

Corey Wilkes: Chi-City Swagger

When musicians are as versatile as Corey Wilkes, the sky is the limit when it comes to choosing which direction to take on a debut album. The 29-year-old Chicago native has employed his crackling tone and improvisational swagger to a handful of forward-thinking...

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September 2008    Artist Profiles

Bobby Previte: Watch the Music

Without a doubt, there’s a cinematic allure to Bobby Previte’s latest disc, Set the Alarm for Monday (Palmetto). Steering his current ensemble, the New Bump, the veteran drummer/composer invents dreamy soundscapes that sound as if they were lifted from some...

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August 2008    Artist Profiles

Nicholas Payton: Musical Middle Ground

Five years ago, soon after the release of Sonic Trance (Warner Bros.), trumpeter Nicholas Payton vowed never to record the same way again. He drew a line in the proverbial sand, marking a break from his critically acclaimed string of acoustic postbop discs...

07/14/08    Concerts

Seun Kuti + Fela’s Egypt 80

Familial comparisons are often inept yet inexorable when it comes to young artists extending the legacies of their predecessors. As for 25-year-old Seun Kuti, he not only has to grapple with being compared to his father, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the Nigerian...

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07/08/08    Concerts

Hank Jones Invitation Series at Montreal Jazz Festival

If there were to be only one jazz musician to grace the cover of AARP The Magazine, the award-winning monthly lifestyle periodical targeted to people over 50, it would have to be Hank Jones. A consummate pianist, Jones was just a month shy of celebrating...

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June 2008    Artist Profiles

Empirical: British Invasion

In January, launched by the concerted efforts of arts councils and media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic, a platoon of more than 100 U.K. jazz musicians swarmed the 2008 conference for the International Association for Jazz Education in Toronto. Among...

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May 2008    News

Blue Note Records: Hip-Hop-Hard-Bop

Just as today’s jazzers often yearn for their music’s halcyon years—whether it’s ’30s swing, ’40s bebop or ’50s hard-bop—hip-hop has its own generation gaps, with many aging B-Boys longing for what is commonly referred to as the Golden Age (1987 to 1995...

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April 2008    Artist Profiles

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin: Don’t Fake the Funk

For someone renowned for an economical approach to piano improvisation and composing, Nik Bärtsch speaks rather effusively about his “Zen-funk” philosophy. His lengthy, involved explanations trail off like fanciful Chick Corea solos, making fascinating...

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March 2008    Artist Profiles

Simone: Like Mother, Like Daughter

Having an icon such as Nina Simone as a mother, a music career should almost be a no-brainer. Then again, some musicians try to dissuade their children from the music business in hopes of protecting them from financial risks, the hard knocks of life on the...

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January/February 2008    Overdue Ovation

Steve Reid: Walking with Giants

When Steve Reid talks about his fascinating life as a drummer or waxes philosophical about the state of jazz, three words pop up routinely in the conversation: cycle, rhythm and dance. Those terms also provide apt modifiers for describing Reid’s circuitous...

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December 2007    Artist Profiles

Antonio Sanchez:Making Time for the Masters

Sometimes you have to create time to make things happen. That certainly was then case for Antonio Sanchez’s overdue debut disc, Migration (CamJazz). He’s been a constant in-demand drummer since arriving on the scene at the tail end of the ’90s, recording...

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November 2007    Artist Profiles

John Scofield: Mixed Bag

John Scofield settles in no particular mode for too long. He sounds as comfortable in R&B, funk and country as he does in bebop, rock and fusion. He impresses even more for his ability to wield an instantly recognizable guitar tone and sense of phrasing...

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May 2006    Artist Profiles

ObliqSound: Without Boundaries

ObliqSound is a U.S.- and Germany-based label that’s making serious noise in the jazz scene—and on the dance floor. The company’s motto is “Music without boundaries,” and its adventurous roster includes Gilfema (featuring buzz-worthy Beninian guitarist Lionel...

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April 2006    Artist Profiles

Ursula Rucker: Supa Sista

Ursula Rucker laughs a lot. That may come as a surprise to anyone who's heard Rucker recite her edgy poems: When she speaks, words shoot out like bullets with sniperlike precision. Whether she's exploring themes of racism, misogyny or U.S. capitalism, Rucker...

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January/February 2006    Albums

Unfinished Symphony
Dakah Hip Hop Orchestra

At the very least, you have to give this large ensemble an "A" for effort. While the combination of hip-hop and live instrumentation is hardly new, very few try to pull it off in such a grandiloquent style as here. Boasting a lineup that includes a 15-piece...

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January/February 2006    Albums

Towards the Shining Path
Lafayette Gilchrist

Lafayette Gilchrist continues mapping out his own idiosyncratic path on Towards the Shining Path, a worthy follow-up to his debut, The Music According To Lafayette Gilchrist. On that record, his music was hardly hospitable, projecting an ominous quality...

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About John Murph

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John Murph is a Washington, D.C.-based music, art and pop culture journalist. His work has been published in JazzTimes, Down Beat, JazzWise and Vibe magazines; in the Washington Post, the Washington Post Express and the Washington City Paper newspapers; and on the NPR, BET Interactive and the Root Web sites. He also hosts a bi-weekly radio show on WPFW-FM (89.3).