Mark Murphy: Angel Eyes (2007)
Mark Murphy (vocals)
Love is What Stays (Verve 8906)
Christian von Kaphengst (bass), Sebastian Merk (drums), Johan Leijonhufvud (guitar), Gregoire Peters (bass clarinet).
Orchestra arranged and conducted by Nan Schwartz. Composed by Matt Dennis & Earl K. Brent.
Recorded: Berlin, date not given (CD released in 2007)
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Mark Murphy has to compete with his earlier recording of this song—never an easy thing for the veteran performer—but he shows that some things do get better with age. Indeed, I am deeply impressed by how well Murphy sings as a septuagenarian. Not many vocalists in the long history of jazz have done so well so late in their career, but don't take my word for it . . . check out the music. Murphy's 2005 CD Once to Every Heart was one of the finest of his career, and we find the same ensemble in place here, with comparable results. If the younger Mark Murphy excelled at jaunty hipster tunes, these late vintages find him crafting exquisite versions of classic ballads. He definitely does not play it safe on "Angel Eyes," taking almost every liberty you can imagine with his phrases. He elongates, he abbreviates, he growls, he eeeeeeks up in the stratosphere, he puts in casual asides, he emphasizes stray words, he rearranges the melody in novel new patterns . . . . In short, Murphy puts a lifetime of experience singing these songs into this music. For fans of this vocalist, this is another must-have recording, and this admirer hopes more of this sort are in the works.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia
Tags: angel eyes