Murphy (Self-Produced)

Carn Davidson 9

Released November 3, 2017

Juno Award Nominee Jazz Album of the Year: Group 2018




Following up on their Juno-nominated debut, Murphy is the exciting new recording from the Toronto-based nonet, the Carn Davidson 9.

This electrifying new release exemplifies the musical growth of the group. From the ensemble playing, to the solos, to the repertoire, Murphy epitomizes the sound of the band.

Featuring 8 new compositions by co-leaders William Carn and Tara Davidson, this new recording also features new arrangements by not only Carn and Davidson, but also by Geoff Young, Andrew Downing, Jason Logue, Ernesto Cervini, and Andy Ballantyne. All these musical perspectives blend to form the unique and beautiful sound of the Carn Davidson 9.

The Carn Davidson 9 was formed at the beginning of 2010. This collaborative project is an opportunity for both artists to “reimagine” their compositions for this chamber jazz instrumentation, shining new perspective on their existing repertoire.

Track Listing:

1. Try Again (William Carn) 6:59

2. Family Portrait (Tara Davidson) 6:54

3. Glassman (William Carn) 7:08

4. Murphy’s Law (Tara Davidson) 7:04

5. Second Act (For Ron) (William Carn) 8:29

6. Reason, Season, Lifetime (Tara Davidson) 7:42

7. Colebourn (Tara Davidson) 6:45

8. Murphy! (William Carn) 6:57


William Carn: trombone
Tara Davidson: alto/soprano saxophones
Kelly Jefferson: tenor saxophone
Perry White: baritone saxophone
Jason Logue: trumpet
Kevin Turcotte: trumpet
Alex Duncan: bass trombone
Andrew Downing: bass
Ernesto Cervini: drums

Special Guest:

Emilie-Claire Barlow: vocals (3)

Recorded July 8 – 9, 2017, at Humber Recording Studios, Toronto, ON


The “Carn” in Carn Davidson 9 is trombonist William, the “Davidson” saxophonist Tara. They are Canadians, as are the other seven members of their Toronto-based ensemble. They are also first-class musicians, an assessment that applies as well to everyone in the Carn Davidson 9.
This is apparently the second album by the nonet, which had been together for seven years when Murphywas recorded in 2017. This new enterprise encompasses eight original compositions, four each by Carn and Davidson. They are decorous and well-written but otherwise unremarkable; in other words, there is nothing the average listener is likely to be humming after the fact. The absence of a piano or guitar for rhythmic heft, they say, presents a challenge, and it is one that is never quite surmounted.
Carn’s busy opener, “Try Again,” seems to tread the sort of path that Gerry Mulligan might have followed had he remained with us for the past two decades. Brass and reeds are given a vigorous workout, complementing muscular solos by Carn, baritone Perry White and bassist Andrew Downing. Davidson’s alto traces the melody on her handsome “Family Portrait,” on which Carn solos again and the trumpets (Jason Logue, Kevin Turcotte) blend well with Carn, Davidson and the rhythm section to shape the coda. Carn’s “Glassman” probes a darker side, deepened by Emilie-Claire Barlow’s wordless vocal and White’s bass clarinet. As soloists aren’t listed, that’s either Logue or Turcotte on trumpet.
Reckoning from the jacket’s illustrations, Murphy is a cat, and a rather large one at that. The first of two themes that bring him into play is Davidson’s “Murphy’s Law,” which hurries forward behind robust statements by White and one of the trumpets. Carn’s “Second Act (for Ron)” is more sedate, with a pleasing melody enhanced by Davidson’s high-flying alto and splendid work by the ensemble (especially drummer Ernesto Cervini). Davidson’s sunny “Reason, Season, Lifetime” (cogent solos courtesy of Davidson and tenor Kelly Jefferson) and atmospheric “Colebourn” are next up before Carn rings down the curtain with the hard-driving “Murphy!,” another ardent salute to the album’s namesake.
As noted, there nothing on Murphy that invites censure; neither is there anything that sets it apart from or above comparable enterprises. It is well-played, well-written and well-ordered—in sum, an efficient session that never seems to rise above that. On the other hand, that is no more than one listener’s opinion, and hardly the definitive paradigm.

Jack Bowers (All About Jazz)