Planet Jazz Magazine
John Kelman, Winter 2003-04

Metalwood saxophonist Mike Murley teams up with guitarist/composer David Occhipinti for a program of standards and originals that are a diversion from the intensity of their other projects. After playing together as a duo since 1999, there is a strong chemistry developing, and a sense of adventure that raises the bar for chamber jazz recordings.

Occhipinti’s sense of space brings to mind Jim Hall. Like Hall, the acoustic sound of his guitar underlies the warm electric tone. While employing a warm, clean sound, his use of stereo panning on Murley’s “Nest of the Loon” creates an ambience that is rich and seductive.

Murley displays facility and consummate taste, showing why he continues to be in such high demand on both sides of the border. “Minas Mist” brings to mind Dexter Gordon at his most lyrical.

Dispelling the preconception that this is strictly an impressionistic affair, their reading of Charlie Parker’s “Segment” shows that a guitar-sax duo can swing with the best of them. Without a rhythm section the interplay manages to imply what is not there. Occhipinti takes a solo that would have made Joe Pass proud.

Recorded with a minimum of overdubs, the exception is “Prairie,” where acoustic guitar drives an 11/8 groove that is fleshed out with a number of electric guitar textures, creating a broad sense of space. Murley’s soprano solo has a haunting desolation that puts you right in the middle of the wheat fields.

The album closes with Bernstein’s “Some Other Time,” a serene, lyrical and optimistic piece that leaves us with the hope that this is but the first of many fine duo records from Murley and Occhipinti.

The Toronto Star
Geoff Chapman, 21 Nov 2002

Saxophone and guitar make new local duo Two musicians have first CD Montreal Bistro scene of event.

If you’re going to play in a duet, says guitarist David Occhipinti, you want to be with the best.

“I’m a big tennis fan and the word in tennis circles used to be that the best doubles team ever was John McEnroe and anyone else. That’s how I feel about my new record (Duologue) with Mike Murley (who plays tenor and soprano saxophone),” he said in an interview.

“You can put him with anyone and he’s just magical. He listens a lot, he interacts and he’s one of Canada’s best musicians. This was a treat for me.”

The Cornerstone label CD – five originals and four standards – will be officially released on Monday at 9 at the Montreal Bistro. On it the mood is far tougher than mellow. It’s a type of chamber jazz with a sharp edge, with pleasing unison passages and frequent fine solos.

Occhipinti’s bop line “Early Thaw” is a winner, he overdubs on “Prairie” and remakes a very well-known standard into “David Leaves,” as does Murley with “Nest Of The Loon.” (No prizes for correct guessing.) The emotional index is high on Murley’s “Minas Mist.”

The guitarist has released two (non-duet) CDs of his own compositions, his eponymously-titled debut in 1997 and Syzygy in 1999. He began playing with Murley in 1999.

“We were at places like Rhodes and Mezzetta and the following year at the Atlantic Jazz Festival. We were well received there and Mike suggested we should record. When I got the call from him to do it, it was one of the real highlights of my career.

“The duo is one of the most challenging combos, though it can be a lot of fun. When Mike plays I accompany him but when I play I’m pretty much on my own. But I like the space in a duo, anything can happen.

“There haven’t been many horn and guitar duos. I can only think of (trombonist) Rob McConnell and Ed Bickert, but I’ve always enjoyed listening to any duets with guitar, like Jim Hall with pianist Bill Evans.”

Occhipinti, who teaches at Humber College and at U of T, will tour with Murley to the east coast in February and the west coast in November. He will record two CDs in February, one with bass Andrew Downing and drummer Terry Clarke, the other as a member of the Lina Allemano Four – trumpeter Allemano, Downing and drummer Anthony Michelli.

Murley has enjoyed an outstanding career since coming to T.O. from his native Nova Scotia. He has released six CDs as leader, winning Juno awards for Both Sides and Live At The Senator and another as a member of McConnell’s tentet. He’s also a key member of funk-fusion jazzers Metalwood, the Barry Elmes quintet and other group.