about

A briefer and more conventional bio is here.

Without a publicist or biographer to write this in the third person, will write this in first person. If English verb inflection indicated the grammatical person clearly like and Portuguese and Spanish do, it would prevent us from having to write the first-person pronoun each time (for the curious). When novice Spanish speakers do that too much, it's frowned on and labeled "yo-ismo." This is written in a way that avoids I-ismo.

Current title is professor and chair in the Jazz Studies Division; from June 2012-May 2013, also serving as Interim Director of Graduate Studies. Teach jazz history (graduate and undergraduate), jazz styles and analysis (graduate), and jazz research methods (graduate). Served as Chair of the Division of Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology during the 2006-7 and 2007-8 academic years, and began serving as interim chair of Jazz Studies in August 2008; voted into a three-year term as chair in spring 2009.

Discovered my love for jazz in early teens by listening to the Saturday night radio broadcasts by Benny Kearse and Vernon Welsh of the Left Bank Jazz Society in my native Baltimore. Attended the Sunday evening concerts (5 until 9) at the Famous Ballroom (ceiling painted blue, with silver stars, bake sale, seating around round tables and long tables; seated at a round table one time, met Mercer Ellington) sponsored by the Left Bank, heard Dexter Gordon (right around the time of Homecoming, several times--really made a strong impression), Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Phil Woods, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Sun Ra and his Arkestra, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin, Bobby Watson, and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. While in high school and attending Peabody Preparatory Department on Saturdays, played baritone saxophone in the Peabody Conservatory Jazz Ensemble; one concert with the group was under the direction of Gunther Schuller and shared the program with Eubie Blake. Attended one Kenton Clinic at Towson University, heard Roy Reynolds solo on tenor. Heard the Count Basie orchestra with Count Basie in Salisbury, MD and Keith Jarrett in a solo concert at Carter-Barron amphitheatre in Washington, D.C. Also played garage (actually, basement) cover band rock, original rock, and funk in one of those 12-piece funk bands with horns (EW&F, P-Funk, Stevie Wonder) in clubs in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Ethnomusicologist and saxophonist. Joined the UNT Jazz Studies faculty in 2001. Published two books: Music in Brazil (2006) in the Oxford University Press Global Music Series (site for the book), and Cavalo-marinho pernambucano (University Press of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, 2008), the Portuguese translation of my dissertation. Speak fluent Portuguese. Published articles on jazz improvisation, Brazilian traditional and popular music, Cuban music in New York, and college teaching. Spent 1990-91 in Brazil on a Fulbright Fellowship, with my family, researching Brazilian traditional music, especially cavalo-marinho, a musical drama in oral tradition performed by people who cut sugar cane for a living). Spent the 2000-2001 academic year in Recife, Brazil on a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, with my family, doing research on Brazilian popular music and globalization, studying the Northeast Brazilian button accordion style, and producing two video projects (documentary on accordionist Arlindo dos Oito Baixos, making-of videos for Pernambuco em Concerto DVD). Wrote "Beyond the Improvisation Class: Learning to Improvise in a University Jazz Studies Curriculum," which began as a paper presented at "New Directions in the Study of Improvisation: An Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Conference," held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in April 2004, and revised it for publication in Musical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society, edited by Bruno Nettl and Gabriel Solis (site for the book). In Spring 2007, moderated a series of six jazz film showings and discussions at the Dallas Public Library as part of the "Looking At: Jazz" series. Current research project is a book on the music and life of Ronald Shannon Jackson. In fall 2010 presented a paper with Kris Chesky on ethnomusicologists and noise-induced hearing loss at the Society for Ethnomusicology annual meeting in Los Angeles.

Perform often on tenor and alto saxophone. For instance: with the UNT Jazz Faculty small group on the Maria Schneider concert at UNT in March 2003; at the North Texas Jazz Festival at Addison in April 2003, 2005-2008; with Dave Douglas at UNT in February 2004; with Jimmy Cobb in Denton in April 2004; and at the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival in 2003-2008. Subbed once on the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 2007. Led groups at the Denton festival in 2003 and 2004. In April 2008 played five concerts and held master classes along with JosĂ© Aponte (drums) and Jeffry Eckels (bass) in Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa, PerĂș as part of Jazz Appreciation Month, sponsored by U.S. State Dept. Played a set with Eddie Gomez and Duduka da Fonseca with Stefan Karlsson in October 2008 when both were guests of Stefan and the small group program, and on a program of Mike Steinel's big band music in March 2009. In May-June 2009, played concerts and club gigs in Guangzhou and Shanghai, China with Landon Mattox (guitar), Cyrille Briegel (bass), and Rafael "Xiao Bai" Lee (drums). Played again in Shanghai in 2010 with UNT students at East China Normal University. In spring 2011, started weekly music series at UNT on the Square in Denton; this continues in Fall 2011. Member of the Original Texas Jazz Orchestra, directed by Jim Riggs. Former member of Dallas-based Steely Dan tribute band Naked Lunch.

While a student at the University of North Texas, earned two degrees (B.M., jazz studies performance, 1984; M.M., music theory, 1986), played in the One O'Clock Lab Band (1984-85) and Two O'Clock Lab Band (1982-1984), studied saxophone with James Riggs, and free-lanced in Dallas-Ft. Worth (including two weeks in Cal Lewiston's big band at the Fairmont Hotel, backing up Ella Fitzgerald, soloing on "Cherokee"). Then earned two degrees at Columbia University (M.A. 1988, Ph.D. 1994, both in ethnomusicology), played Latin music (mostly merengue) around New York, worked as an intern at the Ford Foundation one summer doing research on the arts of new Americans, and heard all kinds of music.

Have taught at the UNT Small Group Jazz Workshop in 2001-2 and 2004-11. Served as web editor for the Society for Ethnomusicology from 1997 to 2002, and taught previously at Western Illinois University (1992-2001; music theory & appreciation, jazz improvisation, ethnomusicology, American popular music).

Current interests include preparing documents in LaTeX and music in Lilypond and editing video and audio in Final Cut Pro.


John Murphy | University of North Texas administrator & faculty member | Faculty profile | Email: john.murphy@unt.edu
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