Greg Murphy (Whaling City Sound)
by Russ Musto
The followup to his chart-topping Bright Idea reunites keyboard player Greg Murphy with bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts on a genre- leaping program bolstered by a host of guests.
The trio kicks things off with an arrangement of “Chim-Chim-Cher-ee”, which clearly identifies Murphy as an accomplished McCoy Tyner acolyte while also demonstrating each player’s strength as both soloist and accompanist. Ku-umba Frank Lacy joins on vocals for a powerful rendition of Steely Dan hit “Green Earrings”, which also features a rocking David Kikoski synthesizer solo. Murphy’s soulful “My Life” adds Cameroonian vocalist Kaïssa Doumbe Moulongo, who harmonizes a vocal chorus borrowed from Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” with Lacy and then solos wordlessly and in her native Duala language. The trio charges straightahead on Murphy’s “Theme For Ronnie” and then grooves on his “Friendship”, joined by Kikoski and vibraphonist Bill Ware.
Murphy’s “Free Fur Nina”, a dedication to his feline pet, is a flowing free improvisation by the trio and his “Enkare Nairobi”, inspired by a 2019 trip to Kenya, opens and closes with the recorded voices of the Maasai women chorus’ greeting song sung upon his United Nations-sponsored arrival. In between we hear the buoyant flute of T.K. Blue and vibrant Moulongo singing her loosely translated interpretation of the song’s words in Duala. Stirring arco and lyrical pizzicato bass, along with romance-drenched pianisms and finessed brush work, are featured on the trio’s interpretation of Johnny Green-Edward Heyman-Robert Sour-Frank Eyton’s “Body And Soul”, combining John Coltrane and George Coleman’s arrangements of the classic ballad.
The band, with Lacy on vocals and Marc Cary’s synthesizer augmenting Murphy’s keyboards gets funky on The Isley Brothers’ “Coolin’ Me Out”, then the trio stretches out acoustically on Wayne Shorter’s beautiful “Lost” and Murphy’s hard-hitting “Cuttin’ Trane's Corners”, combining melodic segments of former boss Rashied Ali’s “Cuttin’ Corners” and Coltrane’s “Miles’ Mode”. Murphy shows his mettle as an R&B composer to close: dancing “You Decide” has Lacy and Moulongo on respective lead and background vocals singing his love song lyric.
For more information, visit whalingcitysound.com. Murphy is at Let Love Inn Jul. 8th with Lawrence Clark, Lorenzo’s Jul. 10th, 11th, 17th and 24th, Riverbank State Park Jul. 18th with Ray Blue and Dana Discovery Center Jul. 25th with Harlem Blues & Jazz Band. See Calendar.
12 JULY 2021 | THE NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD