Remembering Mark Murphy reviews
Vocalist Nancy Kelly considers the many talents of singer and lyricist Mark Murphy on a 10-track set that pays tribute to his legacy in a heartfelt manner. Avoiding outright imitation, she wisely focuses on the distinctive and stylistically diverse repertoire the late singer cultivated. The results are uniformly compelling.
Kelly’s vocal skills are varied and highly honed. Her sense of phrasing is particularly arresting. She can extend a note to the breaking point, delighting in the tension while toying with her impeccably employed vibrato. Histrionics have no place in the singer’s stylistic inventory. She keeps her cool even when a slow-burn sensuality insinuates its presence. Kelly explores the nuances of lyrics as intently as a jeweler inspects a world-class gemstone.
Trumpeter Randy Brecker contributes to Kelly’s reads of Milton Nascimento’s “Vera Cruz” (a.k.a. “Empty Faces”); “Red Clay,” the Freddy Hubbard classic for which Murphy penned lyrics; and the evergreen “Body and Soul.” Brecker had recorded these same three tracks with Murphy, and his solo on “Red Clay” is exhilarating. Keyboardist John DiMartino, the session’s producer and arranger, provides an endless flow of delicate pianistics that perfectly complement Kelly’s frosty vocal forays. Other riveting takes include Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments,” replete with Murphy’s crafty lyrics; and “Sunday in New York,” a rarely performed dazzler by pianist Peter Nero that was a Murphy specialty. The album’s most magical moments unfold on “Again,” a bluesy ballad from 1948. With an R&B-style backbeat, Kelly’s at her most evocative. Add a smoldering electric guitar solo by Paul Bollenback, and the take will seduce even the most jaded listener.— Mark Holston
"Nancy Kelly's tribute to Mark Murphy is wonderful remembrance and dedication to one of the jazz world's greatest vocalists. Each track brings something new to the table though...a heartfelt effort that I was proud to be a part of, having known/toured with Mark, and played on a couple of his albums."
Gary Walker, WBGO Music Director - NYC market:
"THANK YOU Nancy for making such a hip record.
It's a pleasure to share with the audience."
Eric Cohen, WAER Music director and 2-time award winning programmer of the year says:
" The CD is a Masterpiece "
Frank Wilner, WNHN FM 94.7 Concord, NH
" You have a winner here, very classy recording"
Mark Holston Jazziz “Nancy Kelly’s sense of phrasing is particularly arresting. She explores the nuances of lyrics as intently as a jeweler inspects a world-class gemstone.”
Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz "Remembering Mark Murphy is a spectacular recording ! Kelly shows the kind of individuality that was the hallmark of Murphy’s performances." -
Hot House Jazz NYC “Nancy’s 6th CD Remembering Mark Murphy, is exquisite.”
Peter Jones, author of the 2018 Biography,This Is Hip: The Life of Mark Murph. had this to say: "This recording is far more than a tribute to the great Mark Murphy; it’s an outstanding contribution to vocal jazz in its own right".
Scott Elias, Freelance Film Producer and President at Random Acts Entertainment.
" The charts are all cool, and your PHRASING just slays me! It's like listening to Mark Murphy's hip kid sister, who is now a woman who shares his sensibilities, but has her OWN impeccable virtuosity and unique experiences to share."
London Jazznews . “Kelly has not merely reproduced Murphy’s versions of these tunes, but has given them a sleek, contemporary gloss. What makes this new album stand out from more routine tributes is the sheer quality of its arrangements and performances.