Writings about Music

Mellifluous Marv: Homage To Marv Albert

Marv Albert as ballboy with the Knicks

Musicians and composers from all genres, rap to jazz to classical, will do well to experience the live basketball game commentaries of Marv Albert, a sportscaster who is in league with the late Howard Cosell.

After contemplating Albert’s wonderfully resonant speaking timbres, attempting to discern reasons for the magical effect of his broadcasting style, I concluded that he shares stylistic similarities with none other than Frank Sinatra. This includes a commanding yet inviting vocal sonority, perfectly timed phrases that provide counterpoint for the visual action on the court like The Voice interacting with Count Basie and his Orchestra, expressive modulations of pitch, and emphatic accents, all presented with a carefully modulated, hip cosmopolitan swagger.

Marv's myriad technical and expressive attributes are artfully employed in the service of a sagacious knowledge, and trenchant insights into the surface, and beneath the surface elements of competitive sports in general, and professional basketball in particular.

Original phrases and descriptions that Albert invents while communicating his love for basketball have been adopted by contemporaries in the fields of sports broadcasting and journalism, becoming an intrinsic part of hoops phraseology.

Added to the sheer pleasure of Albert’s spoken word "music" is a dry yet lively gift for humor and irony that provides a welcome balance to the fierce competitive nature of professional basketball.

My dream for the NBA Finals would have Albert as the announcer, joined by Bill Walton as commentator. I have no idea if they ever collaborated in this manner before, but that pair would be a match for the great players on the court, in addition to the wealth of other gifted announcers and commentators we are fortunate to enjoy.

- Michael Robinson, April 2012, Los Angeles


© 2012 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer, programmer, pianist and musicologist. His 199 albums include 152 albums for meruvina and 47 albums of piano improvisations. Robinson has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University Long Beach and Dominguez Hills.