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Mark Murphy: Links

Mark Murphy is blessed with a magical ability to reinvent and repackage himself. From brash, young hipster to brazen pathfinder to sage elder statesman, he has managed to hold our rapt attention through each incarnation. No wonder, then, that he has outplayed and outlasted almost all of his peers, and is, at age 69, still at the top of his game. Aptly representative of Murphy’s trademark eclecticism, Links is a satisfying marriage of old, new, borrowed and blue.

When Murphy’s at the helm, standards are never standard. Dipping into the Strayhorn-Ellington songbook, he serves up a moody, melancholy treatment of “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing,” and blends “Daydream” and “In a Sentimental Mood” into a seven-minute salute to cautious pessimism. Lane and Loesser’s “The Lady’s in Love With You,” so often bandied about like idle cocktail chatter, is seasoned with a dash of peppery cynicism. Similarly, “I’m Thru With Love,” usually imbued with a hint of reckless hopefulness, becomes a suicidal swan song for a guy who truly has reached the end of his romantic tether.

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