John Murph

John’s Contributions


May 2009    Features

Nat King Cole: Getting Their Kicks

An eclectic group of contemporary artists reinvents Cole classics


December 2008    Features

Roy Hargrove: Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

A mysterious bandleader who leads by example


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...

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About John Murph