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Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Vinyl Review: Mark Murphy - A Beautiful Friendship - Remembering Shirley Horn.

Mark Murphy – vocal; Alex Minasian – piano; Curtis Lundy – double bass; Steve Williams – drums; Till Bronner – trumpet.
(Review by Debra M.)
Originally the idea of George Mesterhazy,  Shirley Horn’s pianist , this project  was  dedicated to them both following his sudden death at the age of 59.  The result is a vinyl EP, engineered, produced and designed as a 1950s or ‘60s  jazz album.  The sleeve includes extensive background information, from the instruments used, to the equipment that cut the vinyl.  This obsessional attention to detail is reflected in the quality of every aspect of the recording. 
The quartet are immediately up and swinging  in  ‘A Beautiful Friendship’ , with solos all round, including  a relaxed scat by Murphy. The remaining tracks are ballads, and like Horn, Murphy is not afraid to take things really slowly. In ‘But Beautiful’, William’s subtle brushwork & Minasian’s sparse piano bring the vocal to the fore, giving  space to each considered phrase. The trumpeter Till Brunner plays a tender solo, and also features on, possibly the most outstanding track, ‘Get Out of Town’.  Beginning with a single rap, Williams develops a solo and, with piano, sets a scene  reminiscent of a showdown.  Murphy’s rich, textured voice almost narrates the lyric ,  alternating  to great effect with swinging  sections. His immaculate phrasing and delivery are augmented by the dramatic  percussion  provided by Williams, who was Horn’s drummer for many years. The final track, her trademark ‘Here’s To Life’, has added poignancy, sung by a vocal legend still performing in his 80s. As one of her contemporaries, and with a diverse vocal jazz career spanning decades, Mark Murphy is ideally placed to integrate the spirit and style of Horn’s singing  with his own.  This is an outstanding tribute, capturing the essence of Shirley Horn, and an absolute master class of vocal and piano trio.
Debra M.

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