Reviews that mention Paul Murphy

January 10, 2005


Shadow Intersections West
Cadence Jazz CJR 1160

Leo Records LR 399

Trios made up of an alto saxophonist, a percussionist and a cellist are the points of comparison between these two sessions. Yet despite the similarities each is different in execution, if not conception.

Nominally under the leadership of veteran Washington, D.C.-based percussionist Paul Murphy, who made his name played with the late saxophonists Jimmy Lyons and Glenn Spearman, the first CD features nine instant compositions with considerable input from the other players. They’re Bay area alto man Marco Eneidi, another close Spearman associate, and cellist Kash Killion, who at one point was in Sun Ra’s Arkestra. Improvisational to the max, the only criticism that can be leveled at the performance is that most tunes merely stop, without really reaching a climax or conclusion. MORE

May 31, 2004


Red Snapper
Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1167

Of paramount historical, rather than musical, interest RED SNAPPER is a CD of never-commercially-available short improvisations by combinations of musicians under the leadership of veteran drummer Paul Murphy.

Washington, D.C-based Murphy’s highest profile came during the 12 years in the 1970s and 1980s when he anchored different bands led by alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons. Lyons is all over these 19 tracks, professionally recorded at Columbia Records’ former studio in 1982. Also present is trumpeter Dewey Johnson, who played on John Coltrane’s ASCENSION and Paul Bley’s BARRAGE in the mid-1960s. Additional sounds come from pianist/vocalist Mary Anne Driscoll, as well as bassoonist Karen Borca, Lyons’ wife, who made up a trio with Lyons and Murphy at that time. MORE

January 5, 2004


The Box Set
Ayler aylcd 036-040

Charlie Rouse with Thelonious Monk, Paul Desmond with Dave Brubeck and Harry Carney with Duke Ellington are three saxophone players who signed on for such long stays with the aggregations of well-known pianists, that their individual achievements were subsumed in the composer/keyboardists’ visions.

Unfortunately, alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons (1931-1986) is another example of this. Aide-de-camp to pianist Cecil Taylor from 1961 until shortly before his death from lung cancer, he like Rouse, Carney, and possibly Desmond, was so much part of the Taylor sound that he was consistently undervalued on his own. Worse, or better, depending on how the person viewed Taylor’s music, Lyons was also often described as merely a misplaced bopper whose steadying presence helped amplify some of the pianist’s more outside ideas. MORE

May 5, 2003


Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1147

Unjustly unknown, drummer Paul Murphy is a veteran free jazzer whose experience goes back to membership in various groups led by Jimmy Lyons in the 1970s and 1980s. His highest profile -- if anything in Free Jazz has a high profile --came in the late 1990s, when he held the drum chair in Trio Hurricane, a band completed by tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman and bassist William Parker.

Washington, D.C.-based Murphy still plays with whomever he can on either coast, and this memorable session shows that his mixture of force and finesse is easily put to good use. Most noteworthy is his style, which can be summed up as presence without pulverization. You can sense Murphy’s skills on each of the five instant compositions here. But he doesn’t feel it necessary to take an official solo until the final track. Even then, he only plays absolutely alone for no more than one minute each at the beginning and at the end. He knows that drum solos are like perfume, the least obvious is the most potent. MORE