Virtuoso jazz guitarist Bill Murphy in the San Francisco Bay Area

Following the styles of the masters:    
* Solo jazz guitar, to warm your event or party with sophisticated sounds   
* Duets with great jazz bassists, vocalists or horn players - smooth backgrounds
* Jazz trios with drums and bass to fill the room with energy
Contact me at
Here is my solo guitar sound, on "Our Love is Here to Stay" 

Value Proposition: "Warm your space with mellow guitar sounds..."
Our relaxed jazz respects your guests... great for private events, wine bars, art galleries, fine restaurants and wineries.  

Thursday, May 24, 6pm 
With Rick Ciardella;s Enoteca Trio 
Donato's Enoteca Restaurant, 1041 Middlefield, Redwood City

Sunday, May 27, 1pm 
Duo with acoustic bassist Charlie Channel 
Dana Street Roasting Company, 744 Dana, Mountain View

Sunday, June 3, 1pm 
Duo with master cornet player Gil Cohen
Dana Street Roasting Company, 744 Dana, Mountain View

Thursday, June 7, 7pm 
Duo with jazz singer Moy Eng 
Vino Locale Wine Bar, 431 Kipling, Palo Alto

Thursday, June 14, 7pm 
Duo with jazz singer Moy Eng 
Vino Locale Wine Bar, 431 Kipling, Palo Alto

Thursday, June 21, 7pm 
Duo with acoustic bassist Charlie Channel 
Vino Locale Wine Bar, 431 Kipling, Palo Alto

Blog post:  2/20/18... Looking forward to gigs tonight and tomorrow night with two of my favorite people... Tonight is a duo with one of the Bay Area's best singers, Moy Eng.  And tomorrow night is a duo with the wonderful bassist and man-about-town, Charlie Channel.  And of course, the room is just really, really nice... Come for the live jazz, stay for Vino Locale's warm and friendly space, their great food and well-chosen wines - specializing in the great, local wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  In downtown Palo Alto from 7pm to 9pm both evenings.

Blog post:  2/20/18...  Had a great time playing Saturday evening in 510Jazz, a family band put together by father John Vargas, his wife Carolyn and their two sons (and many friends).   They really know how to have great fun, and invite the audience in with energetic bossas and sambas.  

Oddly, as a player for me the high point was during the last song, where it was appropriate to play melodies very high on the guitar neck... so I found myself channeling Jerry Garcia's iconic licks from the Greatful Dead's classic live performance of Dark Star.  This was far from the spirit of 510Jazz's capstone piece "January 16," and yet was completely, completely effective.  

Jerry did his version on a Gibson SG with the tone turned all the way down and lots of reverb, similar to Eric Clapton's famous "woman tone."  It worked GREAT, and totally fit with the idea of violinist Marty Honda and I soloing at the same time while the singers brought things to a climax.  Who knew?

Blog post:  2/1/18... Tis the season to plan the year and do registrations, and I just signed up for a week at JazzCamp West in the redwoods west of Stanford... this will be my fourteenth time in fifteen years.  I HIGHLY recommend this experience to sister and brother musicians at any level... everyone jams with everyone and its lovely-holistic, the six periods-a-day instruction is top notch, and the swimming pool and hiking are great.  You will catch a music buzz that will last at least the next six months. Kindly check it out?

Blog post:  1/27/18... Boy, after a week of weather, a lovely day at the beach. There were even grey whales, spouting about a thousand yards out.  Listened (twice, actually) to an album that had been very well-regarded when I was a kid, Dave Mason’s Alone Together. I remember it as tasteful Stratocaster with just a hair of distortion from a small Fender amp over very, very sincere lyrics, which now sound to me like something, well, a kid would write.

There’s something special when a songwriter invites listeners to internalize his voice as their own - and they actually do it... it's a magic trick only the successful pull off.  Sometimes it happens, like a family pod of whales, but it doesn’t happen every day.  California beach soundtrack, unpretentious in a world where now, fucking everything is for sale.

Blog post: 12/6/18... The other night something clicked for me during a solo guitar gig:  Each year I use, as brain candy, a theme to my learning process.  I haven't been sure how to approach 2018.  Last year's theme, for example, was to study one transcription per month by masters Joe Pass and Barry Galbraith.  But what to do this year?

As I was gathering charts to add some new tunes to this particular gig, the answer appeared:  Study composers this year, instead of my usual guitar-specific technical details... embellishments and chord melodies and so on. 

So, this year I will add new tunes by four specific great composers, which should stretch my mind:  Bill Evans, Wayne Shorter, Thelonius Monk and of course, Duke Ellington.  Each compostion forces you into their way of thinking, for example Duke and Monk are deeply flavored with blues and swing (and crazy good horn players you can copy), while Evans and Shorter take harmony to a flowing place.

Think of it this way:  What makes their compositions so damn awesome?  Well, being forced to improvise over them on gig after gig makes you do a deep dive, and find out the answer on an intuitive level. 

Or at least, that's the New Years resolution.  The starting point the other night was Wayne Shorter's "Miyako," Ellington's "Paris Blues" from a 1961 Paul Newman movie, Monk's "Round Midnight" using an innovative version in the unusual key of E minor, and Evans' "Time Remembered," using advanced and gorgeous chords suggested by master guitarists John Stowell and Sid Jacobs.

Blog post: 12/7/17... Fun solo jazz guitar gig last Friday at Art Ventures Gallery in Menlo Park, California... it's a blast playing standard tunes like those written by Duke Ellington, others. (And the brain candy of chasing my idol, the great guitarist Joe Pass, who absolutely nailed solo jazz guitar and set the pace for the rest of us.)

Blog post: 10/1/17... Last night I had the great fun of hearing the Peter Bernstein Trio at SFJazz, with three guitarist friends from JazzCamp West - Joe Leonard, Allen Shah and Jonathan Hsu.  Bernstein is a super NYC guitarist, and was accompanied by the great organ player Larry Goldings.  (The second I got home I bought Bernstein's album of classic Thelonious Monk tunes - time to go to school on, repertoire-wise.)  Thanks go out to Jonathan Hsu for putting the evening together and sharing his lovely home, and for the great bottle of Hirsch Vinyards Pinot Noir over dinner!   

Blog post: 9/21/17... Looking forward to a solo guitar gig tonight at Vino Locale wine bar in Palo Alto.  Always fun (and challenging) to play a couple of sets of instrumental jazz tunes, from Ellington to the Brazilian masters... working to emulate my guitar heros Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery.

And as always, I'll throw in a sprinkling of acoustic tunes by Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead and Hot Tuna. Thanks go out to the fine establishment Vino Locale for the opportunity... check out their focus on wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains?

Blog post:  8/25/17... Had a enjoyable time playing solo jazz guitar a few days back, at an art gallery event in Palo Alto... at the Pacific Art League. Two hours of realizing my John Pisano archtop guitar matches up perfectly with an amp I was going to sell - but now will keep - an Acoustic Image Clarus. The tone of the two together was creamy and very Jim Hall, like the days he played an old 1950s Gibson ES175 with the tone turned down. Kind of subconscious, in an oblique way.

The other thing that made the gig fun was that I realized immediately that the crowd of around 100 really needed/wanted musical-comfort-food rather than center-of-attention music... and so I played exclusively vintage, sweet and mellow Duke Ellington tunes and several by pianist Bill Evans.

I dunno, maybe since the venue is an arts workspace and exhibit space with great, impressionistic pieces created by artists with great sincerity... well, I had to channel the same spirit: It really felt like I was inhabiting Impressionism, albiet in sound and air rather than a tangible artifact.

Anyone know of more art galleries in the San Francisco Bay Area that would like this type of jazz music? I'm interested in expanding this art form... the brain candy is just really fun.

Blog post:  7/13/17...
 Every year I attend an eight-day music camp in La Honda, California... the awesome, awesome JazzCamp West, and this was my 13th year. The 2017 camp happened about ten days ago, and I have a music buzz you wouldn't believe to practice, jam and gig more - a buzz that will last at least the next six months.
Thanks go out to executive director Stacey Hoffman and artisitic director (and magnificant singer) Madeline Eastman, and to new artistic director starting next year Allison Miller - one of the best drummers on the planet. I urge every musician reading this to check JazzCamp West out, then think about giving it a shot in 2018. I guarantee you will improve as a player and grow in community.

High points for me this year were studying African American field holler and work songs with the fine Bay Area singer Tammi Brown, and playing in a combo led by one of our era's greatest drummers, Mike Clark. Mike came to fame as one of the pioneers of the Oakland funk sound and as a result got picked up by Herbie Hancock, making a key contribution to Hancock's successful Headhunters albums Thrust, Death Wish, Flood, Man Child, Survival of the Fittest and Straight from the Gate. Mike has made his home in New York for 30 years and is one of our era's most kick-ass straight ahead jazz drummers.

JazzCamp West is open to every person of any skill level interested in jazz, Brazilian and blues, and also has dance classes in modern, salsa and hip hop as well as songwriting classes. The faculty concerts in the evening are fantastic as are the late night jams, the food's good (it's a YMCA camp and they give you three solid meals every day plus all the coffee you can drink), and no other camp in the world takes place in a cathedral-like redwood forest - cool and pleasant when the rest of the nation is sweltering. And it's only about eight miles to some of the finest beaches in Northern California!

Blog post:  5/25/17... A few days back I had two gigs in a row, and they couldn't be more different... in a good way - fun.  The first was two sets on solo jazz guitar, and for once the room was quiet with all these romantic couples at the tables.  And sure enough, the quieter I played, the better service it felt like I was providing... here is the set list that revealed itself (I rarely plan sets, and prefer to choose tunes on the fly based on what the room seems to need).

Lady be Good - a jazz standard
Lonesome Mountain - an original folk tune
Blue in Green - a Miles Davis jazz standard
Mood Indigo - a Duke Ellington jazz standard
Come Sunday - a Duke Ellington jazz standard
Home is Where the Pie Is - an original blues tune
Chewing on the Blues - an original jazz tune
Days of Wine and Roses - a jazz standard
Mother Nature's Son - Beatles
Misty - a jazz ballad
Down by the River - Neil Young, via Roy Buchanan
Greensleeves/Autumn leaves - via Kenny Burrell
Stella by Starlight - a jazz standard
Blackbird - Beatles, really, it's a folk tune
First dance at Sean and Casey's wedding - original folk
Blues for Keith Richards/Joe Pass Blues - original blues

Then, the next night was a duo with the great jazz bassist, Charlie Channel.  We went in a completely different direction, drawing each piece out by extending the intros and endings and just... grooving.  Much, much shorter set list, but the same two hour gig.  As a theater game, I played at channeling Jerry Garcia's improvisation style, which I felt really flowed on Nardis and Invitation, as well as Beautiful Love - a jazz standard that orginally appeared in the old Hollywood monster movie, the Mummy with Bela Lugosi! 

Nardis - a Miles Davis jazz standard
Blues for Donnie Flim Flim - made it up on the spot
Invitation - a jazz standard
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy/Feelin' Alright - vintage rockers
Stella by Starlight - a jazz standard
Beautiful Love - a jazz standard
Yesterdays - a jazz standard 
Wave - a Brazilian jazz standard
Honky Tonk Woman/Brown Sugar - vintage rockers

Notice that, by the end, Charlie and I were bored with jazz and wanted to play something with balls... go Mick and Keith!  Check out what may be the Stones' final album, the recently-released Blue and Lonesome?  It's hot stuff, the best they've done in decades...

Blog post:  5/23/2017... Wow, whoever said "study the Masters" really got it:  I've been grooving to albums by Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery last couple of days, and it's ridiculous (and humbling) how much a musician can learn from a five-second molecule of their genius... here's one of the YouTubes,below. (How the hell does Wes play so fast without ever feeling like he's exerting himself... his lines are deceptively calm! The only thing I can think of is that it comes from the person, from inside. I genuinely don't hear his stuff as sounding difficult, then you try to PLAY it and, no, you haven't got a freaking chance at being that calm...).

Blog post:  4/21/2017... In the last week three fun gigs at Vino Locale wine bar in downtown Palo Alto, California: A night backing up jazz singer Moy Eng, a night working with jazz violinist Marty Honda, and a session with bassist Charlie Channel.  Wow, all of them have never sounded better (and are a real inspiration lifting my own playing).  

Also, about ten days ago a very enjoyable duet gig with sax player Esther Berndt at Backyard Coffee in Redwood City, California.  Spring is here!

Blog post:  3/27/2017... Great fun playing a duo gig with acoustic bassist Charlie Channel at Dana Street Roasting Company in Mountain View yesterday, courtesy of host Nick Chaput.  Giving tribute to what might be the last blustery day Central California experiences before the spring warmth kicks in, we played at cloudy-day moods superimposed over this song selection:  Footprints in  F#,  Night and Day, Alone Together, There is No Greater Love, Yesterdays, On Green Dolphin Street, Stella by Starlight, Blue in Green, and House of Jade.

Blog post:  3/21/2017... Pat Martino completely hit the ball out of the park, at last night's Cafe Pink House gig in Saratoga, along with organ player Pat Bianchi and drummer Carmine Intorre!  Their two sets were magnificent and I'm humbled and well-aware how truly special it was to hear such players... sometimes words like that get thrown around loosely, but I really feel it.  

Pat himself, in particular, was a force of nature with attack and clearity in his guitar mastery that are darn near perfect - it gives the rest of us mere mortal guitarists a very high mark to shoot for, while as I said being very humbled by the experience.

 I had the good fortune to get Pat Martino's autograph after the first set, on my copy of his lovely autobiography, "Here and Now."


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