John Murph

John’s Contributions

200512_034_span3

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...

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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...

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December 2005    Albums

Konfusion
Skalpel

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...

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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...

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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...

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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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May 2005    Hearsay

Meshell Ndegeocello: Jamia Session

Meshell Ndegeocello has built a solid career in the socially conservative world of R&B by being a provocateur. She fearlessly sings about religious hypocrisy, homophobia and sexism, all in a dark, mellifluous voice. It also doesn't hurt that Ndegeocello...

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May 2005    Hearsay

Lea DeLaria

It's really hard to be a 'hyphenate' of any kind because people tend to not take you seriously," says Lea DeLaria, minutes after performing the role of Winnie in the Classic Stage Company's production of Samuel Beckett's Happy Days. The 48-year-old is referring...

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April 2005    Albums

Closer
David Sanborn

Of all the contemporary jazz artists, saxophonist David Sanborn is fascinating because he knows way more than he plays. It's easy to detect Hank Crawford in Sanborn's pinched, super-hot tone and riff-oriented improvisations, but many times his song choices...

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March 2005    Hearsay

Luis Perdomo

Luis Perdomo didn't want to make a Latin jazz record when he first arrived in New York City, 13 years ago. Even though the pianist-composer is firmly rooted in the idiom, having grown up in Caracas, Venezuela, he says that he "just wasn't into it," when...

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01/24/05    Concerts

Panama Jazz Festival 2010

The reawakening of a country’s soul is a splendid thing to witness, especially when it’s a place as beautiful and intriguing as Panama. Ever since the fall of fomer dictator Manuel Noriega in 1989 and then, in 1999, gaining full control of the Panama Canal...

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January/February 2005    Hearsay

Abram Wilson

Making the connection between Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and hip-hop/R&B seems like a better exercised idea on paper than on the bandstand. But trumpeter and singer Abram Wilson's splendid debut, Jazz Warrior (Dune), offers a persuasive case for the unlikely...

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December 2004    News

Roy Hargrove: Strength in Fewer Numbers

When Roy Hargrove reinvented himself into a soul man, fans of the trumpeter's more traditional works probably hoped that his RH Factor project would be a short-term diversion. After all, the last thing mainstream instrumental jazz needs is another bright...

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December 2004    Books

Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies
Edited by Robert G. O'Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards and Farah Jasmine Griffin

Conversations about jazz usually resemble sports fanatics keeping tabs on athletes, statistics and historic moments. Rarely do conventional jazz heads discuss the music as a multifaceted culture that touches other disciplines and how it impacts contemporary...

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December 2004    Albums

It Is What It Is
Melvin Sparks

Another Melvin Sparks album, another jazz-funk date. As the title of his new album suggests, guitarist Sparks makes no apology for the stylistic redundancy of his recordings. And at least you can, in most cases, count on the funk being potent and infectious...

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November 2004    Albums

Gwotet
David Murray and the Gwo-Ka Masters featuring Pharoah Sanders

On the tantalizing Gwotet, saxophonist David Murray reprises his investigation of the Creole music of Guadeloupe (first explored in 1998 on Creole and four years later with Yonn-De), reuniting with the Gwo-Ka Masters: vocalist-percussionists Klod Kiavue...

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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).