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Pianist and Singer Alyssa Murray Had a Plan for the Pandemic Blues

by Joe Dimino

It was another Spring Thursday at Noon off 18th and Vine at the Historic Blue Room and KC Pianist Alyssa Murray was at the keys leading her group with eyes closed and a smile refreshingly wide. It was Mid-April 2022, and the world of jazz musicians were finally given the green light to get back to the improv world they love.

“I am getting back out there. I’m a regular at the Corvino Supper Club. It’s always been one of my favorite spots to play as a musician,” Alyssa said. “I have played every single genre of mine at that very spot. I love it there.”

Over the nearly two-year pandemic slowdown, Alyssa dug within to learn some new things and continued to teach piano lessons to everyone from beginnings to masters. She realized that mixing it up in the live environment was high on her list of priorities.

“Last October 2021, I did a collaboration with a visual artist named Barry Anderson through Charlotte’s Lab Proto Series. It was two artists coming from different worlds. It was such a special event. When I do go out and play, I try to find events like that to be a part of.

She also released a new album in 2021 called Half and Half that is a departure from her traditional jazz sound. Her increased studio time gave her pause to think more about how she delivers her live product.

“I felt like I was running myself thin on the performance part of things,” Alyssa said. “So, focusing on recording music made me reflect more on my live approach to things.”

Ultimately the live environment is where the true jazz lives. The appreciation of that is evident in full houses of jazz around the city and Alyssa likes the idea of that.

“Going to see a show from a band you don’t know that well and seeing them live takes you by surprise versus just listening to them,” Alyssa said. “Relishing those live organic moments as they happen in front of you is the best.”

Alyssa sometimes thinks back to those final gigs in March 2020 and how painful the separation from the stage was, but she had an ally in this pandemic fight under her own roof.

“Luckily for me, I live with a musician. We started to stream gigs and looked to the internet to guide us and bring us attention,” Alyssa noted. “That was when I switched over to a more electronic focus.”

The result of that old world and new electronic focus was the flavor of her Half and Half album that has been going over well with fans.

“I had some improv moments, but there was no total band interaction. That’s something that jazz is obviously known for,” Alyssa said. “When you do it solo, it’s fun to manipulate it afterwards. It becomes otherworldly. Capturing something beyond the performance.”

As the world wakes and changes, she is a big fan of changes like the new Noon Thursday live jazz series.

“I’m happy to see shorter shows that you can advertise to people to come to. They will be there and giving you their full attention,” Alyssa noted. “I prefer that format. I’ve liked seeing that as a positive outcome of this pandemic.”

For all things Alyssa Murray regarding live gigs, purchasing music, videos, teaching opportunities and more - The Alyssa Murray Neon Jazz Interview -

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