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Canadian Heritage

Mike Murley


MIKE MURLEY (tenor and soprano saxophonist) was born December 12, 1961 in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Since relocating to Toronto from his native Nova Scotia in 1981, Murley has emerged as one of this country's finest jazz artists, amassing impressive international credentials ever since as both a leader and a member of some of this country's most important jazz bands. His critically-acclaimed recordings have placed him at the forefront of Canada's jazz scene. Since winning the Juno Award in 1991 for his Two Sides album, Murley has appeared on eight other Juno award-winning recordings and received over 20 nominations for other albums as both a leader and a sideman. Murley's Live at the Senator album – featuring the saxophonist in an intimate trio setting with legendary guitarist Ed Bickert and bassist Steve Wallace – also won a Juno Award in 2002.

Mike Murley was a member of the Juno award-winning (2001) Rob McConnell Tenet, the hugely successful group featuring some of Canada's finest jazz artists playing masterful arrangements by the legendary valve trombonist. Their first of three albums on the Justin Time label was also nominated for a 2002 Grammy Award. The electric jazz group, Metalwood, featured the more robust side of Murley's saxophone during the quartet's prolific recording period from 1996 through 2003.

One of Murley’s most frequent musical collaborations is in a duo setting with guitarist David Occhipinti. Their first recording, Duologue, met with solid critical acclaim and was nominated for a Juno Award in 2004. Their second recording, Duologue Vol 2, was released in October 2005. Murley has also toured and recorded as a sideman with Occhipinti’s quartet. Murely has also worked extensively with Canadian pianist David Braid. He is a prominent soloist on David Braid’s 2005 Juno Award-winning septet recording, Vivid, and also co-leads a quartet with Braid that toured nationally in 2004. Their debut CD, Mnemosyne's March, was released in early 2006.

Murley and Braid also joined forces with saxophonist Tara Davidson to form the Davidson/Murley/Braid Quartet, recorrding DMBQ LIVE in Vancouver in 2006.

Murley also released The Melody Lingers On in 2006. The live recording was made at the Glenn Gould Studio with a twelve-piece string ensemble conducted by Rick Wilkins featuring arrangements by Murley and guitarist Reg Schwager. The recroding also features flugelhornist Guido Basso and saxophonist Tara Davidson.

Murley's playing experience on the international level includes recording and performance with a diverse cross-section of artists including Kenny Wheeler, Randy Brecker, Jack McDuff, John Taylor, Norma Winstone, Dave Douglas, and Renee Rosnes. He has also recorded and toured internationally with Cornerstone label-mates Time Warp and the Barry Elmes Quintet as well as numerous other Canadian artists including Kevin Dean’s B3 band, Stich Wynston's Modern Surfaces, and NOJO. His work as a sideman has taken him to concert halls and clubs in Europe, South America, and Asia. As a leader Murley has played all of the major Canadian jazz festivals and performed high-profile international engagements at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and at Expo '92 in Spain.

In December 2012, Cornerstone Records released Test of Time, which features Ed Bickert and Steve Wallace. Although the material was orginally recorded in 1999, the material was recently discovered and digitized for release. The recording was won a JUNO Award in 2013.

The University of Toronto Jazz Orchestra released Reflections, an album featuring Murley's compositions arranged by John McLeod and Terry Promane and recorded with the University of Toronto Jazz Orchestra.

In 2014, Mike Murley released Looking Back, featuring guitarist Reg Schwager and bassist Steve Wallace. The album features a number of jazz standards and one Murly original composition.

Murley accepted a full-time lecturer position at the University of Toronto in 2011. He has also taught at the York University (where he served as jazz area coordinator from 2008-11), Humber College, and has been a visiting member of faculty at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He is also a faculty member at the IMC Summer Jazz Camp.

During the 1990s, Murley was a four-time recipient of the Jazz Report Award as ‘Tenor Saxophonist of the Year’
1991 – Juno Award Winner for Two Sides CD
Since winning the Juno Award personally, Murley has appeared on eight other Juno award-winning recordings and received over twenty nominations for other albums as both a leader and a sideman.
1997 – Jazz Report Awards Winner as ‘Album of the Year’ (for Conversation Piece)
1998 – Member of the Juno Award-nominated electric jazz group, Metalwood
1999 – Member of the Juno Award-nominated electric jazz group, Metalwood
2001 – Member of the Juno Award-winning Rob McConnell Tentet
2002 – Juno Award Winner for Live at The Senator (Cornerstone) CD
2002 – Member of the Grammy Award-nominated Rob McConnell Tentet
2002 – National Jazz Awards Winner as ‘Saxophonist of the Year’
2004 – National Jazz Awards Winner as ‘Saxophonist of the Year’
2004 – Juno Award nominee for Duologue (musical collaboration with guitarist David Occhipinti)
2005 - National Jazz Awards Winner as ‘Saxophonist of the Year’
2005 – Soloist on pianist David Braid’s Juno Award-winning septet recording, Vivid
2005 – National Jazz Awards Winner as ‘Album of the Year’ (for Extra Time)
2006 – National Jazz Awards Winner as ‘Saxophonist of the Year’
2007 – National Jazz Awards nominee for Album of the Year – “The Melody Lingers On”
2007 – National Jazz Awards Winner – Acoustic Group of the Year – Murley/Braid Quartet
2007 – JUNO Award Winner 'Best Contemporary Jazz Album' – Murley/Braid Quartet - “Mnemosyne’s March”
2012 – JUNO nomination for 'Tradiction Jazz Album' - Mike Murley Septet - "Still Rollin'"
2013 – JUNO Award for 'Traditional Jazz Album' for the Murley/Bickert/Wallace album "Test of Time"