It was back in 1978 that Paul Murphy first DJ-ed. He hadn’t planned to DJ that night. Far from it. He was the promoter of a club night in Ilord Essex. This was no ordinary venue. Situated above  a above a funeral parlour, it was notorious as a place where local gangsters hung out. However, this was where Paul Murphy graduated from promoter to DJ.

One night, a snowstorm swept in. The two Paul had booked Bob Jones and Paul Gratue were stranded. Paul was without a DJ.  So, it was a case of needs must. He stepped behind the wheels of steel and never looked back. 

That night, was a coming of age for Paul Murphy. Two years later, Paul was DJ-ing full time. He’d moved to a new venue, the Horseshoe in Tottenham Court Road. His speciality was spinning rare jazz funk and fusion. Some of the records he played, he imported from America. He was digging deeper than any other DJs. As a result, his sets were peppered with ultra rare tracks. Many of the tracks he broke became classics. Then in 1982, Paul headed for pastures new.

The Electric Ballroom in Camden became home to Paul in August 1982. His sets were a steady diet of fusion, Latin and jazz. This, after all, was what the jazz dancers who headed to The Electric Ballroom demanded. After two years playing the same music every Friday, Paul felt he needed a new challenge.

Next stop for Paul was Sol Y Sombra, where he spun eclectic sets at his two nights. At the start, he played Latin and Salsa on Fridays. Then he added another night. On Monday nights, Paul tried something new. Everything from fifties and sixties hard bop, right through to soul jazz, vocalese and bossa nova could be heard. This caught the imagination of London’s hipsters. 

Especially, influential style journal The Face. They got behind this burgeoning scene. So, did a new generation of musicians who’d been influenced by the music Paul played. Paul it seemed, had single handedly, invented a scene. It was no surprise when he was asked to compile a compilation of the music he spun on Monday nights at Sol Y Sombra.

Paul compiled his first volume of Jazz Club which was released in 1984. A second volume followed in 1985. There was meant to be a third volume. It never transpired. By then, music had changed and Paul’s DJ sets were changing. They were heading in the direction of R&B and rare groove. Since then, much has happened to Paul. He DJ-ed right through until the end of nineties. This included being one of the pioneers of the Acid Jazz scene. However, as a new millennia dawned, Paul realised he was burnt out. Needing to slow down, he relocated to Budapest. 

Nowadays, Paul Murphy divides his time between DJ-ing, producing and compiling compilations. His latest compilation is Paul Murphy Presents The Return Of Jazz Club, which was recently released by BGP Records, an imprint of Ace Records. This sees Paul pay homage to the scene he single handedly built. 

Digging deep into his record collection, Paul chose fifteen tracks for Paul Murphy Presents The Return Of Jazz Club. Among them are tracks from Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk Trio, Bennie Green, Freddie McCoy, Mose Allison and Willie Rodriguez Jazz Quartet. While many jazz lovers will have heard of these artists, they may not have heard of these tracks. There’s more than a few hidden gems on Paul Murphy Presents The Return Of Jazz Club, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

What better way to open Paul Murphy Presents The Return Of Jazz Club than with a track from a true jazz legend, Sonny Rollins. St. Thomas featured on Sonny’s 1956 album Saxophone Colossus. This describes Sonny Rollins perfectly. It’s no exaggeration to describe him was one of the most influential and innovative tenor saxophonists in jazz history. That’s why Sonny was signed  to Prestige, where he released Saxophone Colossus in 1956. Penned by Sonny, St. Thomas showcases Sonny’s inimitable style on this Caribbean tinged dance classic. It’s akin to a call to dance that’s truly irresistible.

Back in 1952, the Thelonious Monk Trio headed to New York to record the album Manteca. It was released on Prestige in 1953. The lineup consisted of drummer Art Blakey, bassist Gerry Mapp and Monk on piano. This multitalented trio were joined by Latin percussionist Ray Baretto on Bye Ya. Just like so much of the music Thelonious Monk recorded, it was innovative and moved jazz in a new direction. However, like so much innovative music, it wasn’t commercially successful. That was the case here with this groundbreaking fusion of jazz and Latin.

During a spell with Lionel Hampton’s band, Arnett Cobb was crowned the “Wild Man of the Tenor Sax.” This was down to his uninhibited stomping style. That can be heard  on Flying High a track from Arnett’s 1959 album Party Time. It was released on Prestige. Flying High is best described as jazz goes rock ’n’ roll. Arnett plays with power, freedom, ferocity and flexibility.  His playing is inventive and unique. In his hands, the tenor saxophone takes on new life. Joe Dukes’ drums help drive the arrangement along. The result is a blistering slice of good time jazz from Arnett Cobb, one of jazz’s best kept secrets.

Bernie Green’s Hiyo Silver will strike a chord with fans of the Lone Ranger. For younger readers, The Lone Ranger was one of television’s first superheroes. Mind you, I don’t remember The Lone Ranger ever singing “we’re going to rock you tonight?” Bernie does on his homage to the mysterious masked man. Written by Bernie and Osie Johnson, it featured on Bernie’s 1955 Prestige album, Blows His Horn Hi-Fi. Straight away, Bernie throws a curveball on Hiyo Silver. He takes the song in the direction of R&B and rock ’n’ roll. What follows is  dance-floor friendly fusion of R&B, rock ’n’ roll and jazz.

By the early nineties, Johnny Lytle’s  music became a favourite of the UK dance scene. Especially, his ultra rare New and Groovy album. So, much so, that it had been rereleased. The Village Caller, his 1963 album, released on Riverside was very different to New and Groovy. It was a much more laid back affair. Pedro Stroller featured on The Village Caller. It’s driven along by Johnny’s vibes and Willie Rodrigeuz’s percussion. This gives the track an unmistakable early sixties sound. Evocative, cinematic and melodic, this track will have provided the soundtrack to many a cocktail party, when the sixties were about to swing.

Eddie Jefferson is thought to be the inventor of vocalese, where lyrics were added to jazz instrumentals. Here, Eddie Jefferson transforms The Horace Silver Quintet track Filthy McNasty. Penned by Horace, Eddie’s version features on his 1968 album Body and Soul. It also sees Eddie give Charlie Parker’s Body and Soul and Horace Silver’s Psychedelic Sally. Just like Filthy McNasty, new life and meaning is breathed into these tracks. So is power, drama and emotion thanks to Eddie’s vocal tour de force.

When The Billy Taylor Trio collaborated with Candido on Mambo Inn, Billy was already an experienced and highly accomplished pianist. He’d spent the last ten years building his reputation. During that period, he’d come a long way. This included a spell as the house pianist at Birdland. By 1954, he was leading his own trio. They were about to record what would become The Billy Taylor Trio With Candido. Released in 1954, one its highlights wwas Mambo Inn. Here, he reworks this classic. With the help of Candido on congas and a rhythm section of drummer Charlie Smith and bassist Earl May, The Billy Taylor Trio make this classic their own.

Willis Jackson’s Blue Gator features the sultriest of saxophones. It comes courtesy of the man himself, Willis Jackson, who penned this track. It’s the title-track from his 1960 album. Released on Prestige, it showcased an all-star band. This includes Brother Jack McDuff on Hammond organ. Waves of his Hammond and a shuffling beat augment Willis’ blistering saxophone solo. He plays as if his very life depended upon it and makes this the perfect way to close Paul Murphy Presents The Return Of Jazz Club. It’s very definitely a case of keeping the best until last.

Although we’ve had to wait nearly thirty years for Paul Murphy Presents The Return Of Jazz Club, it’s been well worth the wait. Everything they say, comes to he who waits. This includes a compilation crammed full dance-floor classics. From the opening bars of Sonny Rollins’ St. Thomas right through to Willis Jackson’s Blue Gator, it’s quality all the way. These fifteen tracks are from the fifties and sixties. Giants of jazz including Sonny Rollins,Thelonious Monk, Brother Jack McDuff, Mose Allison and Art Farmer sit happily side-by-side with hidden gems from Arnett Cobb and Bennie Green. This mixture of familiar faces and new names will appeal to two lots of people.

The most obvious are the people who spent Monday nights at Sol Y Sombra. They listened to Paul Murphy spin everything from fifties and sixties hard bop, right through to soul jazz, vocalese and bossa nova. For those ageing hipsters, this will be the equivalent to time travel. Paul Murphy’s Jazz Club will bring back memories of a time and a place. Memories of people and dancing till dawn will come flooding back. These memories will be prompted by the music on Paul Murphy’s Jazz Club. It’ll be like listening to one of Paul Murphy’s DJ sets. However, it’s not just anyone who went to  Sol Y Sombra that Paul Murphy Presents The Return Of Jazz Club will appeal to.

No. Anyone with a passing interest in jazz will enjoy Paul Murphy Presents The Return Of Jazz Club, which was recently released by BGP Records, an imprint of Ace Records. It’s one of the best jazz compilations of 2014. With its mixture of familiar faces and hidden gems, Paul Murphy Presents The Return Of Jazz Club will appeal to everyone from jazzers to ageing hipsters and everything in between.



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