John Murph

John Murph writes about music and culture and works as a web producer for BETJazz.com. He also contributes regularly to The Washington Post Express, JazzTimes, Down Beat, and JazzWise magazines.

Song Of The Day
6:03 am
Tue May 22, 2012

Sonnymoon: The Sunnier Side Of Mortality

Sonnymoon.
Courtesy of the artist

Singing about one's imminent death requires a certain level of delicacy, because it's way too easy to dive into melodramatic gloom. But Sonnymoon's "Just Before Dawn" — in which Anna Wise's ethereal vocals float across Dane Orr's palpitating soundscape as she contemplates mortality — takes on a more hopeful, universal tone. "Every night, you should have someone to hold," Wise sings, "to tell you that you did okay when your mind is against you."

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Song Of The Day
6:03 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Scott Tixier: Sketches Of Michael Jackson

Scott Tixier's "Elephant Rose" taps into modern-day nostalgia and still brings about something fresh.
Chris Drukker

Soon after Michael Jackson's death in 2009, many of his songs popped up on jazz albums. While French violinist and composer Scott Tixier doesn't provide a forthright makeover to "I Can't Help It" — a Stevie Wonder-penned ballad from Jackson's Off the Wall — he does interpolate its Brazilian-tinged bass line in his captivating "Elephant Rose."

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Song Of The Day
6:03 am
Wed May 2, 2012

Alfredo Rodriguez: 21st-Century Chamber Music

Underneath the firepower in Alfredo Rodriguez's "Fog" lies the work of a remarkable composer.
Courtesy of the artist

Like many musicians who've come through Cuba's music conservatory, 26-year-old pianist Alfredo Rodríguez displays ferocious virtuosity on his splendid debut, Sounds of Space. Underneath all the firepower, though, lies a remarkable composer who knows how to pull back from the razzle-dazzle and play a piece that's more memorable for its melody and arrangement than for his awe-inspiring technique.

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Song Of The Day
6:03 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Kenny Garrett: Sketches Of Pharoah Sanders

Kenny Garrett's "Welcome Earth Song" conjures the spirit of Pharoah Sanders — and a soul-stirring church service.
Courtesy of the artist

On Kenny Garrett's enthralling new album, Seeds From the Underground, the iconic alto saxophonist pays tribute to some of his significant lodestars. While he doesn't name any specific musician as the touchstone for "Welcome Earth Song," the track unquestionably recalls Pharoah Sanders' majestic Impulse! Records sound.

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Song Of The Day
6:00 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Johnathan Blake: The Ultimate Modernist

Drummer Johnathan Blake tackles Robert Glasper's "Canvas," and in the process gives it a renewed sheen.
Emra Islek

Johnathan Blake is the ultimate modernist. As a drummer, he's as comfortable steering ensembles led by jazz veterans such as trumpeter Tom Harrell and saxophonist Oliver Lake as he is providing the pulse beneath rapper Q-Tip and deep-house diva Monday Michiru. Old-school strategies, though, still seep into Blake's music, as illustrated by the fetching "Canvas."

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Song Of The Day
6:00 am
Tue April 3, 2012

Theo Bleckmann: The Soul Of Kate Bush

Jazz singer Theo Bleckmann tackles Bush's classic "Love and Anger" with a sharp mind and a soulful heart.
Courtesy of the artist

Maintaining an artistic identity while interpreting Kate Bush's music is a chancy venture: With her emotional lyrics, theatrical flair and intricate arrangements, Bush leaves a powerful imprint on everything she writes. So it's especially triumphant when jazz singer Theo Bleckmann gives an enthralling reading of her classic "Love and Anger" on Hello Earth, his new album of Bush covers.

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