Pat Murray, longtime Tulsa jazz pianist, dies at 58
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Saturday, November 03, 2012
11/03/12 at 5:33 AM
Compared to Camus, Sartre and the other philosophers he read for fun, Pat Murray's own philosophy was easy to express.
In music as in life, the important thing is substance, not accolades.
A former college philosophy major, Murray made sure his work as a professional jazz pianist always reflected that.
"On stage, he rarely looked up at the audience," his wife, Rebecca Simcoe, said. "He was too focused on his playing.
"Pat was the absolute opposite of most musicians I've ever known. No ego - he was like, 'Just get it right. It's about the music.' You almost had to twist his arm to get him to take credit for anything."
For 40 years, playing piano and keyboards in various jazz combos and groups in the Tulsa music scene, Murray put that music-first philosophy into practice.
Patrick David "Pat" Murray, a graduate of Edison High School who performed most recently with his own band, the Rainmakers, died Oct. 24. He was 58.
A memorial service is set for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Blue Rose Cafe. Ninde Brookside Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
"I first heard Pat when I would sneak into bars when I was young," said former Tulsa bluesman Brad Absher, who later welcomed Murray into his own band.
"I always had to pinch myself," Absher added. "To have Pat playing with me - like I've told many people, he was just way overqualified to be in my band. He was just a great keyboardist."
Doing Tulsa gigs during the week and traveling on the weekends, Murray and Ab- sher played together from 1990 to 2001, when Absher moved to Houston.
"He was the big brother I never had," Absher said. "We went through several other band members, but Pat was the mainstay.
"I learned so much from him about music, most of the time by example," he said. "He wouldn't know he was teaching you."
Murray started out teaching himself.
At age 4 or 5, the Tulsa native was picking out melodies on the radio, his brother, Mike Murray, recalls.
"Then a year later, he was transposing them to a key he liked," Murray said. "He was just a real whiz at it."
Pat Murray, who took some piano lessons but was usually more advanced than teachers could handle, was 13 when he began playing professionally with friends.
Tulsa Sound keyboardist Rocky Frisco, an Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame member, played with Murray once and said the experience was "intimidating to me. He was just so good. He was a superb jazz pianist."
"He was also one of the most kind, quiet, peaceful people," Frisco said. "He was just universally loved. I don't know anyone who didn't like Pat."
Murray's lifelong interest in philosophy was coupled with an insatiable appetite for knowledge.
He never stopped teaching himself new things.
As a boy, he also taught himself golf, which later earned him a college scholarship to Arizona State University, although he didn't stay there.
He also attended the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa, but he didn't get a degree.
That was also pure Pat, his wife said.
"He was satisfied with getting the education, the knowledge," she said. "The degree itself wasn't important to him."
Murray read constantly, she added, and about anything.
"Not long ago, it was a thousand-page coffee-table book on the history of salt," she laughed.
"Pat was just the most complicated simple human being who ever lived."
Murray's survivors include his wife of 10 years, Rebecca Creasy Simcoe; two siblings, Michael Murray and Lucy Scheer; and his father, David Murray.
Original Print Headline: Longtime jazz pianist hit all the right notes in life
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Pat Murray, shown performing during a Mayfest concert, was a longtime Tulsa jazz pianist and keyboard player. Murray, 58, died Oct. 24. Courtesy