John Murph

John’s Contributions


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


December 2005    Artist Profiles

Gilles Peterson: Tastemaker

If Gilles Peterson's name is associated with a song, it's almost certain to be hot. Whether it's R&B, jazz, electronica or hip-hop, he's become an international cultural force as music impresario, record producer, label owner and radio and club DJ. He's...


December 2005    Albums

New York Cool: Live at the Blue Note
Donald Harrison, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham

This trio struck a nice accord three years ago on Donald Harrison's CD Heroes (Nagel-Hayer, 2004), and it has since deepened. They excel at giving jazz warhorses tasteful makeovers; such is the case with "Body and Soul," where drummer Billy Cobham and bassist...


December 2005    Albums


Skapel crafts noirish jazztronica soundscapes, favoring simple, recurring melodies and rhythmic motifs. The Polish duo of Marcin Cichy and Ignor Pudlo culls many of its samples from old Polish jazz LPs, but it's obvious that the two have studied tons of...


July/August 2005    Albums

Verve Remixed 3
Various Artists

All the arguments against jazz-remix projects are loud and clear on this dismal third edition of interpretations from the Verve catalog. It's shame, because there are a fair amount of jazz-savvy DJs and producers who could offer more loving and inventive...


July/August 2005    Artist Profiles

Lizz Wright: Worth Her Salt

The jazz world crowned Lizz Wright a bright new talent after her impressive 2003 debut, Salt (Verve). Sure, the CD boasted top-tier jazz accompaniment from Danilo Perez, Chris Potter and Brian Blade, among others. And there was pliancy in her voice that...


June 2005    Albums

At the Center
Meat Beat Manifesto

Thirsty Ear's blazing Blue Series has helped define jazztronica, the deft blending of improvisations with electronic beats and effects. For this edition the label has enlisted legendary sound sculptor Jack Dangers (aka Meat Beat Manifesto) for the fascinating...

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About John Murph


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).