Last year, he won the Downbeat Poll as best male jazz singer of the year. And that praise doesn't begin to describe Mark Murphy. Ella Fitzgerald declared, "He is my equal," and recently in Las Vegas, Gregory Hines jumped up on stage to join him in an impromptu duet. Murphy claims, quietly, a huge cult following. He sings ballads, such as "I've Got You Under My Skin," with frightening intensity, and upbeat numbers ("Anything Goes") with exhilarating abandon. He has a surprise talent for Brazilian music. Murphy also sings homage to musicians who came before him with reckless bop numbers, sometimes fitting inventive lyrics to instrumental tunes by Miles Davis or Charlie Parker. In July, he was part of the all-star tribute to Nat "King" Cole held in Carnegie Hall. Now 64, Murphy has the looks of an aging hippie -- lanky frame, drooping mustache. He hangs out mostly in Vienna, Austria, where he teaches as artist-in-residence. His life is a mixture of bohemianism and elegance, and it's easy to see why Jazziz magazine recently called him "one of the true remaining jazz hipsters of our time." Fresh from a three-day stint at New York's renowned Birdland, Murphy brings his trio and his bag of tricks to the Calumet Arts Cafe this weekend. He'll take the stage Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. as part of the Calumet's Jazz Brunch Series.
-- Mary Kunz
THE ROCHESTER CONNECTION
An unusual gathering of alumni from Rochester's Eastman School of Music will be in First Presbyterian Church, One Symphony Circle, at 3 p.m. Sunday to present a mixed recital called "Eastman in Buffalo." According to co-organizers Harrington E. Crissey Jr. and Buffalonian John Burke Armesto, the idea is to present solo or chamber works by Eastman alumni or faculty, performed by Eastman alumni. A couple of premieres will be in the mix, the most unusual of which is the Double Bass Duo by William Rich, played by the composer and bassist Gilbert Pease. Also debuting will be two piano works, "Stride Fantasy" and "La Folia '97," played by their composer, Louis Gordon. The host church's renowned Noehren Organ will be heard in two works, John Burke Armesto's "Wedding March" played by Daniel Fortune and the Prelude and Fanfare, Op. 63, by Walter Hartley, played by Paul Hartley (no relation). There will be two other chamber works, both played by flutist Marlene Witnauer and pianist John Landis: Robert Mols' Sonata for Flute and Piano and "Armesto's "Tristesse." Piano works complete the program. Those played by their composers will be Steven Wasson's "In Memoriam -- Howard Hanson" and two movements from Sonata No. 3 ("Eclectics"), Annetta Lockhart's Variations on "Fly High, Fly Free" and two John Davison works, Prelude, Fugue, Nocturne and Chaconne and "Homage to Bach" (Interlude and Fugue). And Daemen College professor Chester Mais' "Albert's Tune" will be played by pianist John Landis.
-- Herman Trotter