Mark Murphy's 80th at Ronnie's

Ahead of Mark Murphy's 80th birthday gigs at Ronnie Scott's (Monday 30 January – Tuesday 31 January 2012, reservations 020 7439 0747) we publish below a comparative review of a Murphy London appearance three decades ago.

This time round Mr Murphy will also hold a masterclass at Morley College at 11.30am on Monday 30 January. It will be hosted by Claire Martin and excerpts will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Jazz Line-Up on Sunday 19 February.

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From Jazz Journal, March 1982:

MARK MURPHY
UCS, Hampstead, London

Mark Murphy 60sMark Murphy is one of the greatest jazz singers of all time; it is not too much to say that he has everything. The best of Nat Cole, Billy Eckstine and Mel Tormé is mixed with a portion of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross to produce a singer whose voice control, musical intelligence and pleasing personality kept the audience and - just as important - the band delighted throughout.

Brian Dee, Len Skeat, Alan Ganley and Johnny McLevey did a marvellous job firstly by providing that alert and swinging backing that Murphy demands and also by producing a string of solos that at no time allowed the tension to flag. Whether Murphy was singing against or with the full group, duetting with McLevey or Dee and on occasion just with Len Skeat's bass, or even singing competely alone, he demonstrated that he is the complete artist.

Everything Murphy does is right. His vibrato is perfectly adjusted to suit the line - instrumentalists please copy). His tone and range are immense and his feeling for the lyrics is as great as one could wish. Numbers from Miles, Duke, Basie, LHR and others (including a fine tribute to Harold Arlen) were all given sympathetic treatment.
Michael Webber


Pictured: Mark Murphy in London in the 1960s/JJ Archive

Mark Murphy was also the subject of a cover feature in Jazz Journal, July 2009


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