• Mark Murphy with WBGO's Michael Bourne

    October 23, 2015. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive, RIP


    Mark Murphy passed on Thursday October 22nd, 2015, at age 83.  A singer’s singer.  A singer’s teacher.  You can hear in countless singers around the scene (and around the world) the vocal DNA of Mark.  “Stand next to the drummer,” Mark once told me, was the first and most important lesson.

    Mark Murphy was my favorite jazz singer.  And (sez me) was the definitive jazz singer.  Always improvising.  Always imaginative.  Colorful with a melody.   Poetic with a lyric, even when scatting.  And always swinging.

    I’d heard the Riverside album Rah when new in the 60’s, when I was first getting into jazz, but what really pulled my ears and shook my head was Mark singing “I’m Glad There Is You,” first song on the 1972 Muse album Bridging a Gap. Mark sings the verse, quietly, tenderly, with only the guitar, floating freely. Then some chords from the keys enter with a pulse, and Mark sings into and around the pulse — until, like Icarus flying skyward, Mark swirls up to the sun, to the climax of the verse, and with a cry at the top of his voice, whoooom! Mark swoops suddenly down and deep into the song.  “In this world … of ordinary people … extraordinary people … I’m glad there is,” sings Mark, lovingly caressing “you…”

    I’m glad there is, on all the records, in all the memories, Mark Murphy …

    Here’s an interview, my last with Mark, broadcast on WBGO July 18, 2011, just before a gig at Birdland:

  • WBGO's Farewell to Ornette Coleman: Listen Now

    June 11, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Add new comment | Filed under: josh jackson, RIP

    WBGO says goodbye to alto saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, who passed away today at age 85 from a heart attack.

    Coleman, who won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for music, is best known as the originator of "free jazz," a movement which took its name from his 1960 album for Atlantic Records, which featured two quartets recorded independently on each stereo channel.

    Ornette's own deeply emotional, immediately recognizable sound and compositions were deeply rooted in the jazz tradition, especially the legacy of Charlie Parker and the rhythm 'n blues of his Texas youth.

    Coleman sat down with WBGO's Josh Jackson in 2008 for a memorable conversation, which we'd like to share with you again now.

    Thank you, Ornette!


  • Amy Wright on Les Paul Centennial: Listen Now

    June 9, 2015. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Interviews, RIP

    Amy Wright talks with musicians, friends and family members about guitarist and inventor Les Paul, and the centennial celebration of his birth on June 9, 2015.

    New York's Times Square will host a free, daylong celebration of Les Paul's legacy June 9, with an interactive traveling exhibit, "Les Paul's Big Sound Experience."

    The exhibit will also be open to the public in Paul's former hometown of Mahwah, NJ, at the Mahwah Museum Friday through Sunday.

    Happy Birthday Les, and thank you!

    Photo: William P. Gottlieb/LOC