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Mark Murphy's <i>Bop For Miles</i> Pays Tribute to Miles Davis - 2004-09-02

Mark Murphy, one of the greatest jazz vocalists of his generation, is most at home with standards, swing and Brazilian music. Scat singing and be-bop are his specialties. He's also known for composing lyrics to timeless jazz instrumentals by Charlie Parker, Herbie Hancock and Sonny Rollins. He's what critics have deemed "a hipster's hipster," referring to his penchant for wordplay and improvisation. It seems Mark Murphy just keeps getting better with age.

At 72, Mark Murphy is one of the few remaining jazz vocal pioneers. Gone are Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, Mel Torme and, most recently, Ray Charles. Murphy, who frequently performs in the United States, Europe and Australia, treats audiences to a one-of-a-kind performance. Fans will attest that no two Mark Murphy concerts are ever alike.

Mark Murphy was discovered by Sammy Davis, Jr., who invited the young singer to join him on stage at a jam session in Murphy's hometown of Syracuse, New York. With Davis' support, Murphy was soon performing in clubs, on television, and in the studio, where at age 24, he recorded his debut album Meet Mark Murphy. In 1963, he won Downbeat's "New Star of the Year" Award, which opened the door to a 40-year recording career.

When America embraced rock and roll in the 1960s, Mark Murphy headed to Britain, where he gained an even greater following. The timing of his return to the United States in the early 1970s was perfect. He was signed to a longterm contract with the Muse jazz label, and recorded some of his finest work.

Mark Murphy's best-selling releases include The Nat King Cole Songbook and a pair of tribute albums to his literary hero Jack Kerouac.

Now comes Bop For Miles, a live album dedicated to another of Murphy's influences, trumpeter Miles Davis.

On Bop For Miles, Mark Murphy, who calls Miles Davis the "Picasso of jazz," came up with new arrangements for "Milestones," "Summertime," "All Blues," "Miles" and "Bye Bye Blackbird."

Having recently returned from a tour in Australia, Murphy will unveil these and other classics at the Angra International Jazz Festival off the coast of Portugal on October 3.