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Time For a Little Three Play

May 21, 2009
Bob Murphy, one of Canada's very best keyboard players, joins Hugh Fraser and Dave Robbins at Hermann's

Piano and Hammond B-3 master Bob Murphy joins Hugh Fraser and Dave Robbins at Hermann's on Friday night.

Double entendre aside, one thing is certain: when players of the calibre of Hugh Fraser, Bob Murphy and Dave Robbins get together, you can be sure the evening will be filled with uncommon musical pleasure.

When Vancouver keyboard legend Bob Murphy played his first gig at the tender age of 14 in 1959 ( the setting was the Smilin’ Buddha on East Hastings in Vancouver), Hugh Fraser was barely a babe-in-arms, but that hasn’t stopped these two highly creative performers from producing incredible music together, backed by what Fraser calls their “rhythmic furnace,” aka Dave Robbins, on drums.

All three are renowned masters of the jazz idiom and west coast audiences need little introduction to the creative force that is Hugh Fraser, but special attention has to be given to Murphy to understand fully the musical fire contained within this near-nuclear trio.

On his website Murphy lists well over 200 musicians that he has had the pleasure of working with over the years and that he calls his “teachers.” Grab just a few names from the list and you realize the remarkable extent and depth of his experience: Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Henry Mancini, Dusty Springfield, Lionel Hampton, Larry Coryell, Freddie Hubbard, Stevie Wonder, Fraser MacPherson, Terry Clarke, Don Thompson. It’s hard to imagine another musician in Canada with anything even close to his musical pedigree.

Murphy is renowned for his melodic, harmonic and rhythmic mastery of not only the piano but also the Hammond B3, an instrument that will be featured on Friday night at Hermann’s as Three Play explores Fraser’s original compositions along with “rarely heard classic organ-based standards from the libraries of Jimmy Smith, Joe Zawinul, Jimmy McGriff, Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith and Brother Jack McDuff.”

Many musicians consider the trio to be the ultimate jazz vehicle because it offers so much space for individual performers to stretch out in as they interact and improvise. That quality will be particularly true with this trio since Fraser will be switching off between trombone and piano, just as Murphy will move from piano to B3, opening up exponential musical possibilities.

This promises to be one of the best evenings of blues-tinged jazz that Hermann’s has seen in awhile. Tickets are $15 at the door and the show starts at 8 pm. If I were you, I would get there early.

– Rick Gibbs

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