Paul Murphy (musician)

Paul F. Murphy (born January 25, 1949) 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]

Paul F. Murphy
Birth namePaul Florence Murphy
Born(1949-01-25)January 25, 1949
Worcester, Massachusetts
GenresJazz, free jazz, avant-garde jazz


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.[1]

At age sixteen, Murphy began playing in the Washington, D.C. area with Duke Ellington's bassist Billy Taylor,[1] who exposed him to the music of pianist Cecil Taylor. At Billy Taylor's advice, Murphy moved to San Francisco, where he established himself as a bandleader.[2] While there, he met and befriended Cecil Taylor and Jimmy Lyons.[1] At the suggestion of Lyons, he then moved to New York, where he managed Ali's Alley, a club run by drummer Rashied Ali, and began playing and recording with Lyons' groups as well as his own quintet.[3] While in New York, Murphy immersed himself in both the experimental jazz and punk rock scenes.[2]

Following Lyons' untimely death in 1986,[4] 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.[3] He moved back to the Washington, D.C. area in 1990, and has since collaborated with pianists Joel Futterman and Larry Willis,[5] poet Jere Carroll, and others.[1][3]

Murphy has been described as "a fluent, compositionally minded master drummer."[1] 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."[6] Another reviewer described him as "a drummer/sound painter who totally trusts his wildest creative impulses."[7]


As leaderEdit

As sidemanEdit

With Jimmy Lyons

With Larry Willis

With Raphe Malik

With Eddie Gale

With Mary Anne Driscoll

  • Inside Out (CIMP, 2004)

With Kendra Shank

With Windmill Saxophone Quartet


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



  1. ^ a b c d e f Fragman, Dominic (2013). "Murphy, Paul F(lorence)". In Garrett, Charles Hiroshi (ed.). The Grove Dictionary of American Music (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 607. ISBN 9780195314281.
  2. ^ a b Fragman, Dominic. "Paul F. Murphy: Playing Universally", All About Jazz, 28 April 2010. Retrieved on 29 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Jenkins, Todd S. (2004). "Murphy, Paul". Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia. Vol. 2 (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 245–246.
  4. ^ Kelsey, Chris. "Jimmy Lyons / Biography", Retrieved on 29 February 2020.
  5. ^ Murph, John. "In Memoriam: Larry Willis (1942–2019), DownBeat, 14 October 2019. Retrieved on 29 February 2020.
  6. ^ Horton, Lyn. "Paul Murphy: Expose", All About Jazz, 9 October 2008. Retrieved on 29 February 2020.
  7. ^ Conrad, Thomas. "Larry Willis/Paul Murphy: The Powers of Two", JazzTimes, 1 December 2006. Retrieved on 29 February 2020.

External linksEdit