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This is Hip

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in The Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence 2019

When Mark Murphy died in October 2015, the world lost one of the greatest jazz singers in history. Murphy was the last of his kind, a hipster of the Kerouac generation, who rejected the straight life of prosperity and numb consumerism. With a catalogue of more than 40 albums under his own name, Mark Murphy was a consummate improviser, who never sang a song the same way twice. He could have enjoyed a successful mainstream career in the vein of Mel Tormé or Jack Jones. But his ambition was greater – to be an artist, to rebel against the commercial music industry and to carry the jazz vocal flame wherever it led him. Murphy was a master of scat and vocalese, of songwriting and the spoken word. He expanded the jazz singing repertoire, adding his own lyrics to instrumentals like John Coltrane’s Naima, Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay, and Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments. Unrivalled as an interpreter of ballads, he was able to express longing and regret to a degree lacking in any other jazz singer. For years he roamed the world, playing thousands of gigs. Rediscovered in the Eighties by a new audience of jazz dancers, and again in the 21st century by a digital generation who invited him to guest on their recordings, he remains a crucial though unjustly neglected figure in vocal jazz. This Is Hip is more than a biography: it also explores Murphy’s innovative approaches both to singing and to the teaching of singers. Based on numerous interviews with those who knew him best, the book delves into a performing and recording career that spanned 60 years and earned him five Grammy nominations.

Published: Mar 1, 2018


Section Chapter Authors
Acknowledgements Peter Jones
It's Compromise, don't Bother Peter Jones
Chapter 1
That's When It Bit Me Peter Jones
Chapter 2
Dues-paying Days Peter Jones
Chapter 3
All the Bases were Loaded Peter Jones
Chapter 4
Many Shades of Blue Peter Jones
Chapter 5
That's what I Like about London Peter Jones
Chapter 6
He's as Good as I am Peter Jones
Chapter 7
Ready for Anything Peter Jones
Chapter 8
Where Fountains Drip in a Forgotten Tempo Peter Jones
Chapter 9
It's Hot, it's Red Lights, it's Exciting! Peter Jones
Chapter 10
I Remember Less and Less, Except you Baby Peter Jones
Chapter 11
A Wild Animal, or a Child Peter Jones
Chapter 12
Age only Matters if you're a Cheese Peter Jones
Chapter 13
The Mother of All Love Songs Peter Jones
Chapter 14
Much to Do and Not a Moment to Spare Peter Jones
Appendix A: A Jazz Singer is a Singer who Sings Jazz Peter Jones
Appendix B: I don't Want to Stamp out Singers Like Cookies Peter Jones
End Matter
Discography Peter Jones
Notes Peter Jones
Index Peter Jones


Assiduously researched and adeptly written....Being a vocalist of note himself, Jones not only sets the material in context but also writes insightfully about the music.

In short, this is a model biography. Richly detailed, balanced and consistently thoughtful, it should be enjoyed not only by its core audience, committed Murphy admirers, but also by the general reader.
London Jazz News

A 360-degree perspective on Mark Murphy's uniqueness and authenticity. I liked the clear narrative and Peter Jones’ probing, questioning approach; and the section on Murphy’s uninhibited, no-safety-net teaching methods is unputdownable.
Sebastian Scotney, editor of London Jazz News

Author Pete Jones is obviously a dedicated Mark Murphy enthusiast, but his research possessed more of an academic approach than the usual sensationalist tactic acquired by many biographers. The inclusion of two additional appendices and an extensive discography at the end of the book highlight this. The author did not regurgitate known tales but examined and reexamined these and questioned many of the stories and ‘self-created myths’ regarding Murphy throughout the book. His life was so extraordinary that false tales were not required to make Murphy seem interesting – his life was totally unique. Mainstream acknowledgment may have escaped him during his lifetime, but with the passing of time, Murphy will hopefully be recognised as one of the true great voices in jazz.
UK Vibe

Perhaps with a biography this fine, this honest, and this carefully researched, Mark Murphy will reach the wider audience that eluded him in his lifetime. Want some solid advice? Buy yourself any (or all!) of the albums listed above and Peter Jones’ This Is Hip—and enrich your life.
Jazz History Online

Jones writes lucidly and organizes considerable information well. Outside the body of the narrative, he reasonably offers a single appendix to more extensively analyze MM’s singing; there’s another appendix that does the same for the singer’s teaching. There is a complete discography and index. The book performs a valuable service, especially if it impels curious readers to discover the protean, challenging, and rewarding music of Mark Murphy.
The Arts Fuse

Well researched and engagingly written. If you are a Mark Murphy enthusiast before reading this book, you will find many of your existing impressions confirmed, and likely will discover some new elements to consider in your appreciation of him. If this is essentially your introduction to him, it should inspire you to open up your ears to the artistry of one of the select jazz singers ever to grace the scene.
Jersey Jazz

The consummate jazz singer Mark Murphy gets the respect he deserves in THIS IS HIP, Peter Jones’ astute, deeply-researched biography.
Lively Arts

Beautiful biography.... Journalist and singer, Peter Jones wrote the definitive biography of Mark Murphy. An exemplary text, which traces his private and artistic life highlighting the multifaceted personality and analyzing all the albums. A meticulous reconstruction that indulges also on the little known or unknown aspects of private life...
All About Jazz
(translated from Italian)

Vocalist Mark Murphy was an innovator whose impact is still being felt in the jazz world. Yet he remains not nearly as well known as many of his contemporaries. Despite building a fervent following and earning the boundless respect of peers, Murphy never really escaped anonymity among the masses. That was the cost of daring to take risks, artistically. The biography gives him his due.
Pop Culture Classics

If you are not familiar with Mark Murphy [1932-2015] then read this work as another familiar tale of a jazz life, glamorous on the outside, a mess beneath the surface. If you were/are a fan of Mark Murphy, a unique jazz singer challenged by the same industry he devoted his life and talents too, challenged as well by the mores of 20th century America, then this will illuminate you to the man and his recordings. [It] will probably stand as the definitive work on Mark Murphy who undeniably, is a great talent and was a gentle soul.
Cadence Magazine

This Is Hip – The Life Of Mark Murphy tells us that Mark Murphy clearly resonated with Mr. Jones from the start, and his beautifully researched book expresses his perpetual devotion to and fascination with the man in all his uniqueness. He objectively addresses the portion of Mark’s life which exemplified his inquisitive nature and daring-do approach. Many of us didn’t get it some of the time, but Peter Jones did. It’s a lovely book, affectionately dedicated to an authentic, much admired jazz innovator.
Carol Sloane

I knew Mark quite well over a number of years.. I wouldn't have believed that I could learn so much more about a man that I already knew. Mr Jones is a most gifted writer and a singer himself. He has written an amazing account of Mark's life - amazing for the story he has dug up... Mark lived a life that was by no means ordinary, but nor was it filled with gripping incident. No detail of family or fortunes escapes Mr Jones and he breathes life into the parade of gigs and recordings that make this into a good read.
Steve Voce, Jazz Journal

Jones's biography is a well-written book, in which the details and the larger picture of the time are very well balanced. At the end of the book there is a thorough discography, which will surely be of interest to those interested in Murphy's music.
Jukka Piiroinen, Valon kuvia

A stunning treatise on Murphy’s life which is an “all one needs to know” on a jazz rebel and revolutionary. With a biography of this quality which is honest and carefully researched, perhaps Mark Murphy will attain the wider audience that sadly eluded him when he was alive.
Bebop Spoken Here

Jones does a fantastic job of piecing together Murphy’s life story, painting a fascinating picture of a unique spirit, a man who embodied jazz, and could improvise with the best instrumentalists....
Jones is an excellent writer, and
This Is Hip is an easy an engaging read. The fact that the author is a singer himself adds additional credibility, particularly in the Appendices, which address Murphy’s style and teaching. Overall, this book is highly recommended.
Kind of Jazz

A very successful biography in which the author is able to reproduce the essence of jazz musician Mark Murphy... Highly recommended.
Dr Jazz Magazine

Named as one of the best books for 2018 by Jazz History Online

If you have ever wanted to know what made the vocal styling of Mark Murphy unique, then you need look no farther this remarkable biography by Peter Jones.
Jazz Profiles

This is a comprehensive, worthwhile exploration of the multi-talented singer and the price he paid for his artistic integrity.
New York City Jazz Record

A thoroughly absorbing and well-researched celebration of a musician whose life was like one of his famous scat solos: fearless, uncompromising, outrageous, and even a little cheesy, but never, ever boring.
Record Collector