Standard Bearer

Back in the Sixties, at a time when the only male jazz singers on the scene seemed to be the swingers of Rat Pack notoriety and lounge lizard fame -- Frankie and Sammy and Deano -- Mark Murphy was keeping the true flame alive with his post-bop renditions of standards like "Milestones" and "My Favorite Things." It helped, too, that he spent half the decade far away from the Vegas strip, performing and recording in Europe among his large fan base there.

Ever since he was a young lad in the mid-Fifties, Murphy eschewed a major-label, commercial pop career for small-label musical explorations into Brazilian music, vocalese, hard bop, and adapting the writings of Jack Kerouac to spoken-word readings. But those in the know, like jazz greats Clark Terry, Al Cohn, and Bill Evans, all of whom were in Murphy's backing band at one time or another, were aware of the vocalist's talents. Now in his sixth decade of performing, he's as hip as ever.