December 2009 Issue
Ohioan - Clifford Murphy
GIG: Every Monday through Saturday night, Murphy and his bass take the stage at his jazz club, Murphy’s Place, in downtown Toledo (murphysplace-jazz.com).
MUSICAL ROOTS: “I always wanted to play bass,” says Murphy. “My father was a preacher and I used to sing in church with my brothers and sisters. I would sing bass, but instead of singing words I’d go, ‘ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.’ ”
HIS OWN STRINGS: Until he was 21, Murphy taught himself to play on borrowed basses. Then one day, after returning from service in the Korean War, he saw a bass in the window of a music store. “I said, ‘That’s it!’ and bought the bass and all the equipment that went with it.”
FULL CIRCLE: Since learning his trade in Toledo, Murphy has toured the country and played with jazz greats, but coming home to open his club in the late 1980s gave him the chance to go on stage every night.
INSPIRATION: “Jazz is a lifetime learning game,” says Murphy, who works at perfecting his style every night.
DEVOTION: “It’s my first love,” says Murphy of his music. “Without music, I don’t think I could survive. It’s the best medicine in the world.”