JAZZ SCENE U.S.A. #21
MARK MURPHY / JIMMY ROWLES QUARTET
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 1962
CBS TELEVISION CITY, LOS ANGELES, CA
Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved
The following brief biography from Wikipedia supplies essential details concerning Murphy’s background up until his appearance on Jazz Scene USA.
Born in Syracuse, New York in 1932, Murphy was raised in a musical family, his parents having met as members of the local Methodist Church choir. He grew up in the nearby small town of Fulton, New York where his grandmother and then his aunt were the church organists. Opera was also popular in the Murphy home. He started piano lessons at the age of seven.
Murphy joined his brother’s jazz dance band as the singer when a teenager, citing influences from Nat “King” Cole, June Christy, Anita O’Day, and Ella Fitzgerald. Jazz piano legend Art Tatum was also an influence.
Murphy graduated from Syracuse University in 1953, majoring in Music and Drama. University life included performing on campus and also in a club – piano and singing.
In 1954, Murphy moved to New York City, working part-time as an actor and singer. He appeared in productions for the Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company and a musical version for TV of Casey at the Bat. Also, he twice took second place at the Apollo Theatre amateur contests.
Murphy was eventually introduced to record producer Milt Gabler, who was an artist and repertoire director (A & R) for Decca. Gabler’s reputation was extensive, having previously recorded Jack Teagarden, Bud Freeman, Pee Wee Russell, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Edmond Hall, Hot Lips Page, and Billie Holiday. He was also working with Ella Fitzgerald and Bill Haley & His Comets.
Gabler compared Murphy to Mel Tormé and predicated that his impact would “scare Frank Sinatra”. His resulting debut recording was Meet Mark Murphy (1956), followed closely by Let Yourself Go (1957).
In 1958 Murphy moved to Los Angeles and recorded for Capitol, but returned to New York in the early ’60s and recorded the now classic jazz album Rah (1961) on Riverside Records, performing Angel Eyes, a famous version of Horace Silver’s “Doodlin’,and On Green Dolphin Street, featuring legendary jazz players Bill Evans, Clark Terry, Urbie Green, Blue Mitchell, and Wynton Kelly. His favorite recording to date, That’s How I Love the Blues soon followed. In 1963, Murphy hit the charts across the country with his single of Fly Me To the Moon and was voted “New Star of the Year” in Down Beat Magazine’s Reader’s Poll.
During his sojourn in Los Angeles Mark Murphy made two appearances on Stars of Jazz, the channel 7 KABC series that was produced by Jimmie Baker. He was backed by Shelly Manne & His Men on his first Stars of Jazz date and by the Candoli brothers plus Jimmy Rowles, Red Mitchell, Mel Lewis and Howard Roberts on his second Stars of Jazz appearance.
The Candoli brothers would continue to back Mark Murphy on some of his albums for Capitol Records and Jimmy Rowles backed Murphy on all three of his Capitol LPs. The Jimmy Rowles group was a natural choice to back Murphy for his Jazz Scene USA appearance. Bill Holman wrote the arrangements for all three Capitol albums.
Mark Murphy, vocal accompanied by Jimmy Rowles, piano; Red Mitchell, bass; Mel Lewis, drums and Steve Geradino, bongos.
Host: Oscar Brown, Jr.
Executive Producer: Steve Allen
Producer: Jimmie Baker
Director: Steve Binder
Associate Producer: Penny Stewart
Associate Director: George Turpin
Technical Director: Dick Hall
Lighting Director: Leard Davis
Audio: Larry Eaton
Art Director: Robert Tyler Lee
Jazz Consultant: Leonard Feather
Title Films: Grant Velie
Cameras: Bob Dunn, Ed Chaney, Gorman Erickson, Pat Kenny