In 1984 my musical education was about to take a leap forward, and one man was responsible: Paul Murphy, DJ at the WAG Club’s Jazz Room. In an interview in the Face magazine, the Specials’ Jerry Dammers described a typical night at the club, making it sound like a lost scene from Absolute Beginners. I wanted to be there but was too young to go, but later that year an album called “Jazz Club” appeared. It had Murphy’s name on it and was a brilliant selection of 50s and 60s hard bop and bossa-influenced soul jazz. I’d wanted to like jazz but had no real entry point. The album opened the door: Tubby Hayes, Dizzy, Art Blakey – now I understood! A second volume came out the following year and was if anything even better: Duke and Ella ripping through ‘Mack The Knife’ and Roland Kirk’s revamp of ‘Green Onions’ as ‘A Sack Full Of Soul’.
Over the following years I took in some of Paul’s club nights at the Purple Pit and the Purple Pussycat, his own nightclub. He was playing more R&B at that point and I knew very little of his early days as a jazz dance pioneer at the Electric Ballroom and the Horseshoe in Tottenham Court Road, the gigs which made him a star. As Gilles Peterson recently stated, “Paul Murphy found almost every jazz dancefloor classic.” And then nothing. There were rumours, but the fact was he had left the scene. He returned in the late 90s to make a series of excellent dance records before leaving town again for a life in Hungary.
I eventually reconnected with Paul via Facebook, telling him how much the “Jazz Club” compilations had influenced me. One thing led to another and suddenly we were discussing a new volume. Culled from the extensive Prestige and Riverside catalogues, “The Return Of Jazz Club” is a mix of all the things good about the original compilations: distinctive latin jazz from Art Farmer and Billy Taylor, a touch of vocal jazz from Eddie Jefferson and dancefloor-friendly blues-filled gems such a Bennie Green’s ‘Hi-Yo Silver’. I can’t tell you how pleased I am we managed to get this release together.
By Dean Rudland
Release date: 31.03.14