reviewed by R. Doull
Bob Murphy was a jazz pianist well known in both Vancouver and Toronto. A professional from the age of fourteen in 1959 when he appeared at the Smilin’ Buddha playing boogie-woogie piano in support of a cross dressing stripper who caused no small consternation when it came to the big reveal. Murphy went on to do a lot of work composing, arranging and performing music for film and radio. He was also active as a teacher during the last twenty years of his life (he died on October 22, 2015). During that latter period tenor saxophonist Mike Allen would visit him at his home and the two would jam informally, often while Murphy had his recording equipment running.
They planned to make an album together but they never did. After Murphy’s death his widow, Monique Van Dam, invited Allen to use the recordings if he wanted to. Four of the tracks, three covers and a Murphy original, were deemed to be album worthy. To round out the recording Allen and Miles Black went to Monique’s home and recorded six additional tracks using Bob Murphy’s piano. They ended up recording three of Murphy’s recent compositions, two of his favourite standards and an original Black composition dedicated to Monique.
There is stateliness and an elegance to the duets between Black and Allen that suggest the elegiac nature of the occasion. The duets between Murphy and Allen are a little more expansive in keeping with the relaxed nature of their genesis.