ⓘ Paul Murphy (musician)


ⓘ Paul Murphy (musician)

Paul F. Murphy is a percussionist, bandleader and composer. He is best known for having led a variety of small jazz ensembles, and for his long tenure in groups led by saxophonist Jimmy Lyons.


1. Career

Murphy began playing drums at a very early age, and made the acquaintance of Gene Krupa at age six. He went on to study with Krupa, Louis Bellson, and Joseph Levitt, the principal percussionist of the National Symphony Orchestra and director of the Peabody Conservatory.

At age sixteen, Murphy began playing in the Washington, D.C. area with Duke Ellingtons bassist Billy Taylor, who exposed him to the music of pianist Cecil Taylor. At Billy Taylors advice, Murphy moved to San Francisco, where he established himself as a bandleader. While there, he met and befriended Cecil Taylor and Jimmy Lyons. At the suggestion of Lyons, he then moved to New York, where he managed Alis Alley, a club run by drummer Rashied Ali, and began playing and recording with Lyons groups as well as his own quintet. While in New York, Murphy immersed himself in both the experimental jazz and punk rock scenes.

Following Lyons untimely death in 1986, Murphy spent time playing drums in Las Vegas, then moved back to San Francisco, where he formed Trio Hurricane with saxophonist Glenn Spearman and bassist William Parker. He moved back to the Washington, D.C. area in 1990, and has since collaborated with pianists Joel Futterman and Larry Willis, poet Jere Carroll, and others.

Murphy has been described as "a fluent, compositionally minded master drummer." One reviewer wrote "It is hard to believe that Murphy is actually moving through space as he moves from one part of the drum set to another because the action is seamless. Murphy uses every tool he has on every drum surface; hands, brushes, mallets and sticks on snare, tom, cymbals, bass and bongos. The drumming possesses substantial physicality even in its subtleties, and often an incredibly rapid and feather-light touch." Another reviewer described him as "a drummer/sound painter who totally trusts his wildest creative impulses."


2.1. Discography As leader

  • Red Snapper: Paul Murphy At CBS CIMP, 1982 with Jimmy Lyons, Dewey Johnson, Karen Borca, Mary Anne Driscoll
  • Cloudburst: Paul Murphy at RCA Murphy Records, 1983 with Jimmy Lyons, Dewey Johnson, Karen Borca, Mary Anne Driscoll
  • In a Dream Stream: Paul Murphy at CBS Murphy Records, 1981 with Mary Anne Driscoll
  • Enarre Cadence, 2002 with Joel Futterman and Kash Killion
  • Freedoms Bell Murphy Records, 2017 with Larry Willis, Jere Carroll, and Dominic Fragman
  • Trio Hurricane: Live At Fire In The Valley Eremite Records, 1997 with Glenn Spearman and William Parker
  • Trio Hurricane: Suite Of Winds Black Saint Records, 1986 with Glenn Spearman and William Parker
  • Breakaway Murphy Records, 2001 with Joel Futterman and Jere Carroll
  • Shadow * Intersections * West Cadence, 2004 with Marco Eneidi and Kash Killion
  • Foundations Murphy Records, 2009 with Larry Willis and Jere Carroll
  • Excursions Murphy Records, 2007 with Larry Willis and Jere Carroll
  • Expose Murphy Records, 2008 with Larry Willis and Jere Carroll

2.2. Discography As sideman

With Jimmy Lyons

  • Jimmy Lyons Box Set Ayler Records, 2003
  • Wee Sneezawee Black Saint Records, 1984
  • Riffs hat MUSICS, 1982
  • Give It Up Black Saint Records, 1985

With Larry Willis

  • Sunshower Mapleshade, 2001
  • The Powers of Two, Volume 2 Mapleshade, 2004
  • The Powers of Two Mapleshade, 2004

With Raphe Malik

  • Companions Eremite Records, 2002

With Eddie Gale

  • A Minute With Miles Mapleshade, 1992

With Mary Anne Driscoll

  • Inside Out CIMP, 2004

With Kendra Shank

  • Afterglow Mapleshade, 1994

With Windmill Saxophone Quartet

  • Touch of Evil Mapleshade, 2002


  • Vision Volume One: Vision Festival 1997 Compiled AUM Fidelity, 1998

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