After a year of isolation, local Jazz artist James Robert Murphy is looking forward to sharing his new album and once again performing at festivals and venues throughout the Southwest.
Murphy, an award-winning musician and author originally from Central New York, now residing in El Paso, holds an M.A. from the University of Oklahoma and served as the Development Director for the City of El Paso Museum of History for the last dozen years of his career.
Park North, Murphy’s sophomore journey into jazz features seven new works along with an all-time favorite by Curtis Mayfield, People Get Ready.
“My goal was to write and produce 10 new songs in a 10-month time frame; to piece together new rhythmic patterns, interesting chordstructures and melody lines that on the surface are clean and simple. When, in truth, at least to me, they are complicated little mathematical patterns that are at times reversed, cut in half, turned upside down, and quietly slide into a new key.”
“Another personal challenge I faced was to write satisfying material for the musicians that were called upon along the way. I wanted to create music that my favorite pianist Ruben Gutierrez would find interesting. I wanted him to perform passages he’d never performed before – and enjoy it. I wanted bassist Curt Bushaw to experience charts into territory he had not yet experienced.”
“The last song I wrote, Wherever,Whenever, was penned a couple of weeks prior to the session coming to a close. My young vocalist friend from Juarez, MX, Joshua Lucero, stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with an extraordinary interpretation. And, I want thank my golfing buddy and guitar wizard Pat
‘Guitar Slim’ Chase for his work on Hey Baby.”
Murphy is also the author of six books. The latest being, Poetry from a Road Scholar (Wipf and Stock Publishers). The Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee recognized Mr. Murphy (Austin Jimmy Murphy) with their prestigious ‘Keeping the Blues Alive’ award for his work as founder and director of the New York State Blues Festival.
His 4-CD box set, A History of Blues, received a SAMMY (Syracuse Area Music Award) for best Blues CD. Two books, El Paso: 1850-1950, and My LifeBefore I Decided To Commit Suicide: A Love Story, were both recognized as #1 in their respective fields by El Paso Book Publishers.
Murphy also organized three Blues and Jazz Festivals that were held at the Chamizal National Monument.
Richard Kadzis, Voice of the Rio Grande:
“James Murphy has the skill and style to readily cross over from blues to jazz, as his latest album release, Park North, demonstrates. As an accomplished blues artist, James blends his rich jazz guitar rifts against a classic sonic backdrop of American soul, proving again the close relationship between jazz and blues. Tracks like ‘Stone Edge’ flow like the sounds are coming from the guitar of Wes Montgomery. Yet other tracks like ‘People Get Ready’ underscore Murphy’s ability to make an American classic his very own.”
Dan Alloway, KTEP 88.5 FM. Host of Folk Fury:
“James Robert Murphy did not waste a minute during the pandemic of 2020. He settled in with a tight group of musicians and created Park North. A superb musical tapestry that takes us from the resplendent sounds of “Wherever, Whenever,” to the playful antics of “Cryin’ Cat Blues.” Throw in some double entendre blues like “Hey Baby,” and a fine reworking of a classic song like “People Get Ready,” and Park North is a recording that will require multiple spins on your player.”
Mexico’s Karina Bugarini, premier dance choreographer, artist, and musician/songwriter:
“Park North is a sublime trip that incorporates genius elements from jazz and blues that makes this listener travel to my favorite places. It starts from a deep atmosphere surrounded by the awe-inspiring riffs of Murphy’s guitar, featuring some really nice phrasing that takes you to a nostalgic place where you haven’t been, but wish so much to go. It’s melodic guitar solos and sublime bends are filled with rhythm, movement and groove. Further, Murphy has a uniquely masterful, melancholic and sultry vocal, creating Park North’s matchless temperament. In this work, no instrument can be overlooked since each has a deep presence and personality. It is uncommon to find a wide range of feelings and masterful songs at the same time: Park North has it all!”
Musician Mike Gienapp:
“That’s totally different from anything I have ever heard from you. First of all, really good musicians. It sounds very clean, very smooth and very intellectual. Almost perfect. You did a really fine job. P.S. I hope that we get a chance to play together again.”
Multi-instrumentalist Michael Judge
Besides a couple of smooth jazz instrumentals, I loved “Wherever, Whenever” (shades of Chet Baker). A cool groove on “Cryin’ Cat Blues,” and wow on the percussion! Loved the guitar work on “Scionti” and “Hey Baby.” I’m a sucker for a good wrenching ballad, and “There Was A Time” really digs down deep. The whole thing wraps up with a sweet but rousing arrangement of “People Get Ready.” Great musicians, great songs, great arrangements!