Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Kerouac Connection - Amram and Murphy

Jazz and Jack Kerouac have been closely linked ever since the publication of On the Road, with its depiction of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty at a West Coast jazz gig.  This connection continued in the experimental short, “Pull My Daisy,” which included Kerouac’s off-screen narration while fellow Beats such as Allen Ginsburg and Gregory Corso acted silently on the screen.  The score of this film was written by another onscreen participant, musician/composer David Amram.  Of all those involved with this project, the last man standing may well be Amram.

Jazz vocalist Mark Murphy also has his own Kerouac connection.  While he never directly collaborated with Kerouac, he paid tribute to him in a couple of iconic albums, “Bop for Kerouac” and “Kerouac, Then and Now.”  Not only do they contain music inspired by Kerouac and the Beats, but Mark reads selections from some of the writer’s novels, including the haunting ending of On the Road, which precedes the equally-moving Fran Landesman song, “Ballad of the Sad Young Men.”

In my own personal Kerouac connection, I expect to be seeing both Amram and Murphy this coming Saturday.  Thinking about this made me realize that not only are both still actively creative artists in their 80s, but they both have gigs coming up very soon.

David Amram is the special guest with Carol Sudhalter’s Astoria Jazz Band (quintet) at Sunnyside Reformed Church this Saturday night, April 21.  It begins at 7:00 p.m. and includes a concert, oral history, Q&A and jam session.  The address of the venue is 48-03 Skillman Ave., Sunnyside, NY 11104. 718 426 5997.  This is a free event made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Queens Council on the Arts. 

Mark Murphy, who turned 80 this past March 14, has been celebrating his milestone in a series of birthday concerts around the world.  During the next one, which takes place at New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club on May 21, he will be further celebrated by other singers who are friends and/or have been influenced by the master.  Of course, Mark himself is slated to sing a few songs, carefully picked from recordings spanning 50+ years of excellence.  The two sets are happening at 8:00 and 10:30 p.m.  The club’s address is 131 West 3rd Street, New York, NY 10012.  For more information, you can call 212-475-8592 or go to Blue Note-NY’s website at

Jack Kerouac would have turned 90 years old this past March 12.  While he no longer walks physically among us, at least it’s nice to know that his legacy still lives on, not just through his books which are being read by the latest generation of free spirits, but through appearances by free-spirited elders such as David Amram and Mark Murphy.

 (Photo of Mark Murphy courtesy of The Jazz Paisan)

1 comment:

  1. Love that photo of Jack K. He was gorgeous wasn't he! Remember reading On the Road in my late teens and falling in love. I bought everything he wrote after that. I still have all the books.