Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Murley, Mike (Michael David)

Murley, Mike (Michael David), tenor and soprano saxophonist; b. Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada, 12 December 1961. 

A warm, innately lyrical player considered by Mark Miller to be one of the most compelling soloists of his generation, Mike Murley began his study of the saxophone at the age of twelve, studying with noted Canadian altoist Don Palmer in his teens.  In 1981, Murley relocated to Toronto to attend York University, continuing his studies under Pat Labarbera and, at the Banff Summer Jazz Workshop, with Dave Holland and Dave Liebman.  With the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts, Murley relocated to New York in 1988- 1989, pursuing further studies with Liebman, Holland and Joe Lovano. In 1984, Murley, along with alto and baritone saxophonist Rich Underhill, drummer Stich Wynston and tenor saxophonist Dave Parker, formed the wildly successful group the Shuffle Demons. The band made a name for itself busking on the streets of Toronto, and soon became a jazz success story, adding bassist Jim Vivian for festival engagements, embarking on a European tour in 1985, reworking the Hockey Night in Canada Theme with such verve that it was picked up for use in Maple Leaf Gardens, and receiving airplay on Much Music for their video Spadina Bus.  Murley would appear on three of the group's eventual six albums, but would leave the Shuffle Demons in 1989 to further his independent projects. Concurrent to his activity with the Shuffle Demons, Murley joined Time Warp in 1985, recording five albums with the group from 1987-1999.  In 1990, Murley began to play in the Barry Elmes Quintet, a Time Warp off shoot with which he still occasionally pla ys and records, having left Time Warp in 2001. In 1987, Murley co-founded the cooperative record label Unity with pianist Brian Dickinson and trumpeter John MacLeod. In 1991, Murley received the prestigious Canadian Juno Award for best jazz album (Two Sides), and has since appeared on seven other Juno winning recordings. Following the demise of Unity Records, Murley co-founded another cooperative label, Cornerstone, this time with drummer Barry Elmes and bassist Al Henderson. His 1995 album Conversation Piece was named jazz album of the year by Jazz Report Magazine in 1997, an organization which has also made Murley a four-time recipient of the award for Tenor Saxophonist of the Year.  In 1996, Murley joined Metalwood which, formed by bassist Chris Tarry and trumpeter/keyboardist Brad Turner, and including New York drummer Ian Froman, received Juno Awards for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for their first two releases Metalwood  and Metalwood 2 in 1998 and 1999 respectively. 

Murley's latest release Live at the Senator received the 2002 Juno ward for Best Mainstream Jazz Album and, accompanied by legendary guitarist Ed Bickert and bassist Steve Wallace, heralds Murley's artistic maturity and original, untrammelled lyrical approach to both standard material and original compositions.  Also in 2002, Murley received the Canadian National Jazz Award for saxophonist of the year and, with the Juno Award winning Rob McConnell Tentet, was nominated for a 2002 Grammy Award. Murley has performed and/or recorded with such international artists as Kenny Wheeler, Randy Brecker, Jack McDuff, Doctor John, John Abercrombie, Paul Bley, Dave Douglas, Renee Rosnes and Bill Stewart, and has recorded with such Canadian artists as the Maritime Jazz Orchestra, Sonny Greenwich, the Barry Elmes Quintet, the David Braid Sextet, Joe Sealy, NOJO and Brian Dickinson.  One of the nation's most popular saxophonists, Murley has been featured at every major Canadian Jazz Festival, has given command performances at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC and Expo1992 in Spain, and has toured Europe, South America and Asia.  Most recently, Murley has been featured in the critically acclaimed David Braid Sextet, has developed a well received duo project with Toronto based guitarist David Occhipinti, and continues to work with his own quintet, a group which concentrates on the performance of original compositions.
In July 2004, Murley was invited to perform as part of Solos: The Jazz Sessions - a series (produced for Bravo: Canada's Arts Network) which captures thirteen renown jazz artists in the challenging solo performance format.  In addition to Mike Murley, other artists featured in the series include international luminaries such as saxophonist Joe Lovano, guitarist Bill Frisell, and pianists Brad Mehldau and Andrew Hill.

The Curse; Two Sides; Time and Tide; Departure; Conversation Piece; Murley, Bickert and Wallace: Live at the Senator; with David Occhipinti: Duolouge; Extra Time
As sideperson:
David Braid Sextet: David Braid Sextet, Vivid; Rob McConnell Tentet: Thank You, Ted, Music of the 1920s; Metalwood: Metalwood, Metalwood 2, Metalwood Live, Metalwood 3, The Recline; Barry Elmes: Climbing, East West, Different Voices, Five Minute Warning; Maritime Jazz Orchestra: Who Are You (with Kenny Wheeler), Siren's Song (with Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone), Now and Now Again (with Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor); NOJO: NOJO; John Stetch: Rectangle Man; Stitch Wynston's Modern Surfaces; Joe Sealy: Africville Suite, Blue Jade; Jordon O'Conner's Cash Cow: When We Were Little Girls; Time Warp: Off Centre, Live at George's, There and Back, The Time Warp Collection, The Music of Duke Ellington; Shuffle Demons: Streetniks, Bop Rap, What Do You Want?; Brian Dickinson: October 13t, In Transition

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