Mark Murphy: On the Red Clay


On the Red Clay


Mark Murphy (vocals)


Mark Murphy Sings (Muse MCD 5078)

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Mark Murphy (vocals), Randy Brecker (trumpet), David Sanborn (alto sax), Michael Brecker (tenor sax), Harvie S (bass),

Don Grolnick (keyboards), Joe Puma (guitar), Jimmy Madison (drums), Sue Evans (percussion)


Composed by Freddie Hubbard & Mark Murphy


Recorded: New York, June 17-19, 1975


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Backed by a stellar lineup, vocal stylist Mark Murphy lends his unique lyrical take to this classic Freddie Hubbard tune. A punctuated bassline by Harvie Swartz starts us off on this desert journey, accentuated by appropriate snakelike rattles from percussionist Evans, all the while backed by the accomplished horn section of David Sanborn and Michael & Randy Brecker. Don Grolnick's electric piano and Tony Puma's guitar comps mesh perfectly as Murphy's deep-timbered, jagged delivery mimics a horn more than a voice. The syncopated pace abruptly shifts with a deliciously played trumpet solo by Randy Brecker in homage to the song's composer, Freddie Hubbard. At the break, the ever-versatile Murphy scats in perfect harmony with the horn section, one more testament to this man's unique ability to scat in the tradition of great singers like Ella Fitzgerald or Jon Hendricks but with a decidedly "cool" approach. The inimitable Michael Becker takes a brief but immediately identifiable solo, followed by a Grolnick electric piano solo riff that foreshadows "Angela," Bob James's theme song to the TV show Taxi by three years! Murphy's lyrics give a story to this formerly instrumental piece. After hearing his take on this song, one wonders how it was ever played without his words.

Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello

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