Arranger, composer and multi-instrumentalist Spud Murphy wrote 600 charts for the highest Swing orchestras of the Thirties, creating colourful and dynamic preparations that formed the sound of Swing. Contributing mightily to the sound of the period, he conceived tuneful, multi-layered charts for Benny Goodman, Casa Loma, Bunny Berigan, Fletcher Henderson and Bob Crosby.
Within the 1940’s and ‘50s he wrote for the flicks, reinvented instruction for composing and arranging and performed revolutionary Third Stream recording classes. The phrases ‘unappreciated genius’ and ‘unsung hero’ don’t overstate his significance of his impression on American In style music, largely forgotten in the present day.
In a 2003 interview Spud Murphy (Lyle Stephanovic,1908 –2005) spoke with attribute wit, modesty and real delight for what he had achieved, vividly recalling well-known bandleaders and former associates. This text relies on the Gabriel Broadcast Award-winning radio program, “Digging Spud Murphy.”
Illustrious Buddies and Employers:
I used to be the one man that ever labored with the 2 finest bands on the earth at the moment. As a result of Casa Loma was the perfect and Goodman was on his approach up and whereas I used to be writing for each of them Goodman handed Casa Loma.
I used to be mates with Cab Calloway and he used to take me out the place in Harlem the place all people goes, The Cotton Membership, present me a pleasant night.
Fletcher Henderson, he’s a fantastic man, a fabulous individual and certainly one of my finest mates of all time; nice piano participant and terrific composer and arranger and we have been mates for a few years.
‘For Two Years I Starved’
Born the offspring of American diplomats in Berlin, Murphy was not fairly an orphan, however he was raised by kin in Utah. As a youth he shortly developed prodigious musical items. Mastering clarinet, the saxes and brass horns, he set out trying to find work on the West Coast in 1922. However at age fourteen he was too younger for the cruise ship or different work he sought in San Francisco and Los Angeles: “For 2 years I starved.”
At first, the perfect he may handle was working with a banjo participant in a two-man band: “The 2 of us obtained a job throughout the border from Yuma, Arizona in Sonora, Mexico. And we stayed there for seven months [in] 1925.” He defined his stage title: “In Eire they name potatoes ‘murphys.’ The place I come from in Utah they name them ‘spuds.’ So, it’s a mixture: murphy, spud, potato, all of it mixes up collectively.”
Wandering the American Southwest, he progressively achieved minor success working in regional bands like Jeff’s Scorching Rocks, the Rainbow Seven and writing preparations for Johnny McFall’s Honey Boys, a 10-piece Texas band. The primary recording of a Murphy chart was by the Jimmy Pleasure Orchestra in Chicago 1928, the jaunty “I Acquired Fear.”
Bandleader Joe Haymes
Murphy and Joe Haymes have been nice mates and partners-in-crime, “we put collectively bands and different folks took ‘em” recalled Spud. He wrote 44 preparations for the Joe Haymes Orchestra, which toured extensively taking part in sizzling jazz and candy music with residencies on the Roseland and Empire ballrooms in New York Metropolis.
Joe Haymes (1907-1964) was a self-taught “composer, arranger, piano participant and every part else” with a noteworthy expertise for creating and promoting orchestras. As an illustration, he bought his band to its star singer, Buddy Rogers after which in 1935 bought Tommy Dorsey his first skilled ensemble.
In his youth Joe had traveled within the circus as a trapeze artist. However by round 1930 he was a workers arranger for the Ted Weems Orchestra. Haymes’ bands featured saxophonist Bud Freeman, and momentarily, horn gamers Bix Beiderbecke and Jack Purvis. In 1934, reed gamers Freeman and Toots Mondello performed clarinets and saxophones on the hit “Dames,” organized by Spud Murphy, and the daring “Misplaced Movement.”
Lost Motion – Haymes Orch 1934
Dames – Haymes Orch 1934
‘The Little Big:’
We affectionately named him ‘The Little Big’ as a result of he was wanting stature however lengthy on musical intelligence. [The band] performed principally one-night stands, however generally we might go to a spot known as Pottstown, Pennsylvania . . . It was a superb place, so we only one time parked there and put out a name that we have been gonna construct a band. And so, folks got here round from all these areas . . . Joe Haymes was very fashionable there, so we have been at all times on radio [in Baltimore].
For some time, Haymes had probably the greatest dance bands within the nation, making a number of information for the most important labels 1932-37, fairly just a few below pseudonyms. Like Murphy, Haymes’ horizons broadened within the Forties and ’50s when he organized and composed for the Hollywood studios, ultimately touchdown a gentle gig with the Lawrence Welk tv present.
Fat and I have been nice mates . . . He got here to my party and performed the piano. You recognize, I simply invited him as a visitor and he sat down and began to play the piano. And he simply stored taking part in they usually stored applauding and he simply stored on taking part in. And I lastly mentioned, “Hey Fat, you have been invited as visitor. You’ve been taking part in the piano all day. I believe I must pay you.” And he mentioned, “You wish to pay me? Extra meals!”
One time I used to be up within the Southern Music Publishing workplace and Irving Mills mentioned to him, “we wish you to do that track on a recording.” Fat was saying, “OK fantastic.” And so they have been apprehensive that he would flip it down. So, Irving Mills mentioned to him, “If that’s not excessive sufficient in your key, we’ll have it transposed and every part.” And Fat says, “Don’t fear, a bit of Seagrams will convey it as much as pitch.”
Six Hundred Swing Preparations
I requested Murphy what made him a profitable Swing arranger. His principal reply was that if the melody of a tune was good he’d use it. If it wasn’t would use little or no and make up the remainder – although I think there’s a fantastic deal extra to it than that. Marked by his signature expertise for innovation and invention, he wrote some 600 preparations by his personal estimate, and greater than 100 unique tunes throughout the Thirties.
Spud was expert at producing colourful, deeply layered charts that have been customized to show an ensemble’s strengths. He usually had the benefit of writing for guys he knew intimately from years on the highway, telling me “I write for the gamers, I don’t write for the instrument . . . it doesn’t say first alto saxophone or third trumpet or something, it’s the man’s title.”
Richard Sudhalter in his landmark e-book, Misplaced Chords: White Musicians and Their Contribution to Jazz, 1915-45, calls him “one of many nice uncared for heroes of early jazz arranging” who “by no means achieved the essential consideration accorded [Gene] Gifford or Fletcher Henderson.” Murphy’s scores “helped form the sound and elegance of Benny Goodman’s Orchestra even earlier than the chief started shopping for preparations from Henderson.”
Poignantly, these remarks are buried within the footnotes of Sudhalter’s 900-page tome, inadvertently highlighting Murphy’s unwarranted and confounding obscurity. By the way, it’s unclear in Spud’s remark beneath about Roseland Ballroom whether or not he was talking of performing there with the Casa Loma or the Haymes orchestra.
Saxophonist Chu Berry:
We labored on the Roseland collectively. It’s two bands you realize, steady music. The best way the band was located is that there’s a double bandstand and a bannister between . . . In Fletcher’s band the piano sat on the far japanese a part of the bandstand and on ours the piano participant was on the far west. The bands’ instrumentation was backwards, so I sat subsequent to Chu Berry on a regular basis.
Casa Loma Orchestra and Clarence Hutchenrider
Murphy wrote 75 charts for Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra throughout 1935-37, constructing on the inspiration laid by his famed predecessor, pioneering Swing arranger Gene Gifford. It appears that evidently Spud in all probability carried out onstage with Casa Loma in some unspecified time in the future within the early years, however by no means on the file classes, and was outdated mates with each Glen Grey and Hutchenrider.
Swing clarinet pioneer and multiple-reeds participant Clarence Hutchenrider (1908-1991) was the closest factor to a star soloist within the Casa Loma Orchestra. Whereas he might have lacked the brilliance of Benny Goodman or virtuosity of Artie Shaw, he cast a groundbreaking Swing clarinet type years earlier than the emergence of both and shines on Casa Loma’s largest hits.
On the Street with Clarence:
He and I labored in a number of bands collectively. Everyplace I went, he went. There have been a number of musicians who, after we’d be working a job and the job could be coming to an finish, the blokes could be worrying “the place we gonna go now?” So, they used to say, “Oh, don’t fear Spud has a job with one other band. He’s gonna get us all on there.” And I’d.
I’d worm my approach in. I’d make a few preparations after which I’d inform the chief, “Hey, these guys that you simply’ve obtained can’t play these things. I’ll get you some good guys.”
Hutchenrider confirmed this tactic, as relayed by Richard Sudhalter in Misplaced Chords: “Plenty of my success in these days was resulting from Spud . . . He would get right into a band after which get me into it – or the opposite approach round generally.”
Arranging for Goodman
Overlapping together with his work for Casa Loma, Spud was a workers arranger for Benny Goodman and his Orchestra from 1935 to ‘37. The bubbling “Get Completely happy” might be Murphy’s best-known chart for Benny. Additionally amongst his 102 preparations for the orchestra are the tasteful classics, “Ballad in Blue” and “Diga Diga Doo.”
Working for Benny:
Nicely it had each a excessive and a low in it. The excessive: it was in all probability the perfect band round. And the low was Goodman. I don’t wish to belittle him as a result of it was not that approach. He was simply unusual . . . he by no means remembered anyone’s title, so he known as everybody “Pops” together with his family as a result of he couldn’t keep in mind their names both.
Goodman would . . . have dinner and hearken to [Casa Loma] on the Essex Home to see if I used to be giving them the identical preparations that I’d made for Goodman. Which is foolish, the mixtures have been fully totally different.
This system that we have been on, the Let’s Dance present was on Saturday I suppose, they usually rehearsed on Friday. I needed to do 4 preparations per week for him: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
However I additionally needed to do two preparations for Glen Grey and the Casa Loma band. So, I needed to do each of them on Friday. And the rationale I may do that’s as a result of [Casa Loma] rehearsed after their job at 1:30 within the morning. In order that stored me busy.
Chicken of Paradise: The Story
Duke Ellington by no means recorded his elegant tune, “Chicken of Paradise.” In 1935 Murphy was employed to create a “inventory association,” business sheet music presenting a lovely rating throughout the capability of a typical Swing ensemble, among the many 250 “shares” he wrote.
“Chicken of Paradise” contains a attribute Peacock or Butterfly motif the place the devices fan out throughout the dimensions in reverse stepwise movement, like butterfly wings opening or peacock feathers spreading. Spud mentioned that he normally tried to listen to auditions or performances of his scores, however this one eluded him. Sixty years later he was astonished to listen to it performed by a Swing orchestra in Los Angeles, Dean Mora and his Trendy Rhythmists.
Chicken of Paradise: Commentary by Dan Radlauer
I’ve requested an achieved Swing arranger to supply us a glance below the hood. My brother, Dan Radlauer, composes and arranges Large Band scores and teaches younger performers, usually producing the trendy equal of inventory Swing preparations himself. By the way, his music studio was the situation for the 2003 interview with Murphy, who was fairly taken with Dan’s writing.
“As a inventory association it may be assumed that there wasn’t a soloist robust sufficient to hold that a part of the association. So, Spud’s focuses extra on the ensemble work. Although there’s a spot the place the piano takes the limelight.
One of many notable qualities of the track (and Spud’s association brings this out) is the dialog between the decrease devices of the orchestra (bass, piano left hand, low trombones and baritone sax) and the higher devices (winds apart from the baritone and trumpets).
Quite than performing the standard duties of these decrease devices, establishing the inspiration of the chords, they turn into a part of the melody, the musical backwards and forwards, query and reply, after which a ultimate response the place all of them come collectively, are figuring out parts of the composition.
There may be loads of enjoyable use of ascending and descending parallel concord. This type of machine was used so much in scoring for cartoons to emphasise actions up or down. From a compositional viewpoint, nearly all of the phrases finish in the identical rhythmic determine and that turns into the ultimate ‘Hook’ of the track.
The 2-beat really feel is ideal for straightforward dancing, however even at this ‘medium’ tempo there’s loads of enjoyable challenges and modifications for even knowledgeable band. That this was anticipated to be simply performed by a much less ready band than Dean Mora’s speaks to the standard of the gamers of the time.”
By the late Thirties, Murphy was a revered arranger, his fluency on a number of devices aiding his writing. Plus, he had a second-career as a talented multi-instrumentalist taking part in clarinet, many of the saxophone household, trumpet, valve trombone, flute, oboe, and bassoon. Clarinet progressively turned Spud’s bread and butter instrument and he was a preferred soloist. He mentioned that he most popular the smaller, lighter instrument as a result of it didn’t require the paraphernalia of a saxophone: straps, instrument-stands, carrying instances, or ofttimes, a number of devices and part-books.
Curiously, his numerous skillset confounded jazz researcher Brian Rust. Within the index to his landmark discography, Jazz Data, Rust presents two listings for Murphy: Lyle M. (clarinet, alto sax, oboe, arranger and director) and Claude M. (trombone, arranger). The latter references his valve trombone taking part in within the orchestra of Charlie Barnet. Spud was on about 100 sides that Barnet made for RCA/Bluebird taking part in in excellent three- or four-horn trombone sections, 1939-42.
Spud’s Orchestra, 1938 – early Forties
Murphy had modest success main an ensemble of his personal. In New York, Spud Murphy and his Orchestra held regular residencies and minimize good information. He appears to have maintained an evolving ensemble as he made a transition to Southern California within the early Forties. Composing, arranging and generally taking part in clarinet or sax, he waxed fourteen tunes for Decca, Vocalion and Bluebird labels 1938-39, together with a number of originals starting from mainstream Swing to the Raymond Scott-like “Booly Ja-Ja.”
Dynamic Composer and Honored Elder
Within the early Forties, Murphy continued advancing his abilities, moved to Los Angeles and authored Spud Murphy’s Swing Arranging Technique. He turned a workers composer and arranger at Columbia Footage throughout the Forties and ‘50s, scoring greater than fifty movement photos. His theme music for The Three Stooges, derived from “Three Blind Mice,” was certainly one of his most well-known film cues. In the course of the Nineteen Fifties he nonetheless sometimes wrote for Benny Goodman or different bandleaders. He served as President of the American Society of Arrangers (1965-77) and was honored into his ninth decade.
Murphy led a collection of notable jazz ensemble recording classes on the famed Capitol Studios in Hollywood, 1954-57. The all-star roster featured saxophonists Frank Morgan, Bobby Gordon and Buddy Collette with Andre Previn (piano), Curtis Counce (bass) and drummers Chico Hamilton or Shelly Manne. Spud composed, organized, directed and performed celeste (keyboard), creating revolutionary music for file albums launched variously as New Orbits in Sound, Gone with the Woodwinds and 4 Saxophones in Twelve Tones.
Murphy ultimately authored 26 books together with an prolonged course on composing, arranging and orchestration, his Equal Interval System. Kennard Ramsey, a movie and tv composer who studied with Mr. Murphy mentioned that it ”took loads of the thriller and misinformation out of conventional music research — he made it so easy to see.” Illustrious graduates of the strategy embrace Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones.
Equal Interval System:
I’ve a twelve-volume course for composers. Any type of music. My college students . . . they’re already composers and arrangers once they take it. All it’s is a simple strategy to write . . . the usual technique could be very restricted whereas mine begins out immediately being far out.
The examine of music has been so tough that by the point you learn to write, you don’t wish to hearken to your personal music anymore. As a result of they nonetheless train music in two methods: the common commonplace system which is circa 1750, which received’t assist you to a lot. And the Schoenberg technique, which is totally dissonant, and you’ll’t make an association with it. You may solely write, quote, Trendy music. It goes as far as to the ultimate quantity, which is named The Concept of Whole Dissonance. Now you’ll be able to’t go any farther than that.
An Unsung Genius
A polymathic musician and tunesmith, the fertile thoughts of Lyle “Spud” Murphy seized upon any venue, medium or format as a possibility for software of his glowing reward for musical group and invention. His sensible instructing system introduced instruction for composing and orchestrating into the trendy period. Our hero was within the vanguard of Swing, first amongst equals in a coterie of principally forgotten scribes and unheralded architects who laid the foundations of Jazz, Swing and In style American music throughout the center years of the Twentieth Century.
‘Doing What I Favored to Do:’
Nicely, I’d have finished this anyway, cash or no cash. I’m very lucky in the truth that I made a residing doing what I favored to do. And never all people will get that chance.
Hear the award-winning radio packages or discover extra on the Jazz Rhythm Spud Murphy web page.
Thanks, and Sources:
Spud Murphy was interviewed in Los Angeles, 2003. Nice because of Dean Mora who assisted with the interview and generously equipped images, background information, uncommon audio and commentary. Mora’s Trendy Rhythmists provide Murphy’s preparations on the CD Goblin Market (at the moment out-of-print). Because of Dan Radlauer for skilled commentary and technical help.
Lyle “Spud” Murphy: Arranged Theme for Three Stooges, John Thurber, Los Angeles Instances/Boston.com, 8.14.2005
Murphy’s scores and preparations are discovered on the Tulane Jazz archives and within the Benny Goodman assortment at Yale College.
Jazz Data: 1897-1942 [discography], Brian Rust (Arlington Home, 1978)
Misplaced Chords: White Musicians and Their Contribution to Jazz 1915-1945, Richard Sudhalter (Oxford College Press, 1999)
The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (St. Martin’s Press, 1988)