The Lee Morgan Project (Part Four-Final)

Well, I’ve reached the end of my personal tribute to trumpeter Lee Morgan. This is Part Four and the Final Part of the “Lee Morgan Project.” A chronological presentation of all the albums he produced as a front man. It is an abruptly sad ending and unjustly similar to the sudden end of his life, at the age of 33. Although it was a grueling project with a strong emphasis on detail, the idea that nobody would read the posts and listen to the podcasts, never crossed my mind. All this personal satisfaction on my part and I’m still rather upset with it ending in this manner. I wish I could have produced a part five, six, seven, ect. Lee Morgan has brought meaning to my life and will to anyone else, by just taking one minute to listen. That’s all it took for me.

Lee Morgan was a hard working musician who gave it all he had. He experimented within the innovative boundaries of Jazz and brought out the real meaning to music. Nobody can possibly ignore the monumental effort he gave to improve himself and the ones who jammed with him. He never veered away from the traditional Jazz format but took complete advantage of the improvising allowed and encouraged, by this musical art form. This is the beauty of Jazz and in which Lee Morgan proudly represented. He continued the tradition of all the greats before him and never let them down. This is not only the mark of a great musician but also of a great man. He clearly remained loyal to all Jazz fans with every single note he played. I’m glad I’ve had the golden opportunity to listen to Lee Morgan and wished I would have met him. I would most likely repeat everything I am writing here. I will always continue to expose the magical sounds that Lee Morgan produced with his trumpet and will continue to promote him and the music he presented known as JAZZ.

Note to all new readers of the Cubanology MediaBlog: All the podcasts are located in the beginning and end of the post. I suggest opening up the podcast by clicking on “Play in new window” so you can scroll through the post itself and visit the links and/or go on with your business and listen in the background. Thank you and enjoy!

 

1st Set:(1967) 1. “God Bless The Child” and 2. “Somewhere” From the “Standards” CD Album.

About the CD:

It’s hard to picture Lee Morgan daintily stepping through the changes to cocktail-hour versions of “My Funny Valentine” or “Misty.” Fortunately, that’s not what he’s doing here. A lot of thought went into this session, which nevertheless remained in the Blue Note vaults from the time of its recording in 1967 until 1998. Duke Pearson’s arrangements play Morgan’s trumpet off of a reed section of James Spaulding, Wayne Shorter and Pepper Adams, which is in turn supported by the no-slouch rhythm section of Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Mickey Roker.

Morgan and Pearson may not have had Miles Davis’ capacity to bring Broadway tunes into the jazz repertoire for good, but they did succeed in choosing songs of various vintages……Read More

3. “The Mercenary” and 4. “The Stroker” From the “Sonic Boom” CD Album.

About this Album:

Sonic Boom was not released until 1979 and then remained in print only for a brief time before eventually being reissued years later. In addition to the great trumpeter Lee Morgan and a fine rhythm section (pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Billy Higgins), the well-rounded set is a bit special for it allows the often R&B-associated tenor David “Fathead” Newman an opportunity to stretch out in a more challenging setting than usual. Highlights include the funky “Fathead,” the complex “Sneaky Pete,” Morgan’s lyricism on “I’ll Never Be the Same,” and the infectious rhythms on “Mumbo Jumbo.” This is an undeservedly obscure session…….Learn More

5. “Dear Sir” and 6. “Soft Touch” From the “Procrastinator” CD Album.

About the Album:

This is part of Blue Note’s Limited Edition Connoisseur series.

The fact that THE PROCRASTINATOR is a shade more atmospheric than other Morgan recordings from this period can be attributed to several factors. For one, the presence of Bobby Hutcherson on vibes gives Morgan new colors to work with as a composer, which he does to great effect on the title cut. The title cut features an elegiac opening statement reminiscent of the Modern Jazz Quartet; the tune ultimately yields to a sort of long-form variation on the blues. Another factor is the continued involvement of Wayne Shorter as a composer on Morgan’s dates. Shorter’s two contributions, the ballad “Dear Sir” and the bossa “Rio” share a questioning, ambiguous quality that draws the trumpeter into a more introspective zone.

Elsewhere, however, Morgan is still his confident and exuberant self…..Read More

2nd Set:7. “Psychedelic” and 8. “Anti Climax” From the “Sixth Sense” CD Album.

About this Album:

This rare Lee Morgan Blue Note date from 1968 is one of the few discs by the legendary trumpeter that didn’t see a large following when it was originally released. Unlike the colossal THE SIDEWINDER, this session is subtler in its approach to the funky sounds that Morgan had ushered into existence a few years earlier. Still, the masterful playing of stars like Morgan, Jackie McLean, Cedar Walton, and Billy Higgins, coupled with some exceptionally creative tunes, make this a worthwhile jewel in the Lee Morgan treasure chest. Also significant is the rare appearance of tenor man Frank Mitchell, who had appeared briefly with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

Morgan and company set the groove early with the bossa nova-tinged title track. Higgins swings hard on Morgan’s “Short Count,” which gives the trumpeter and his guests plenty of breathing room for some healthy solos……Read More

(1968) 9. “Haeschen” and 10. “Taru, what’s wrong with you” From the “Taru” CD Album.

About Album (Limited Info):

Trumpeter Lee Morgan performs two funky boogaloos, a ballad, and three complex group originals on this album whose music was first released in 1980. This is a transitional date with the hard bop stylist leaning in the direction of modal music and even anticipating aspects of fusion. His sextet (which includes Bennie Maupin on tenor, guitarist George Benson, pianist John Hicks, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Billy Higgins) is quite advanced for the period and inspires Morgan to some fiery and explorative playing….Read More

11. “Caramba” and 12. Helen’s Ritual”

About Album:

Lee Morgan is regarded as one of the great trumpet players of his era, with a style that combined the dexterity and precision of Gillespie with the minimalism of Miles Davis. Having started playing professionally at the tender age of 15, Morgan spent the rest of his short life playing hard bop with the best in the business. During his two tenures with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Morgan refined his playing style and composing prowess even further, and when they parted in 1965, Morgan was free to blaze his own trails.

These six songs were recorded by a 29-year-old Morgan in May 1968, one month after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Four years later, Morgan’s life was also cut short by a bullet. Backed by a prodigiously talented, intuitive band, whose work shines on CARAMBA, Morgan shows his mastery as a soloist. The title track is an extended vamp that showcases the marvelous interplay between Morgan and his band…..Read More

3rd Set:(1970) Introduction 13. “Speedball” 14. “Neophilia” and 15. “Aon” From the “Live at the Lighthouse” 3CD Album.

About Album:

Recorded live at The Lighthouse, Hermosa Beach, California in 1970.

As Lee himself points out in his on–tape introduction to these three nights of live recording for Blue Note Records, the band had no plans to play anything Lee had already recorded, because, as Morgan mutters, “It just wouldn’t make any sense.” This sprawling three-CD set does, in the end, include a version of “The Sidewinder,” as well as “Speedball,” an uptempo blues from Lee’s album THE GIGOLO, with Jack DeJohnette guesting. But even these tunes are rendered in a more abstract fashion than the way they were originally recorded, and on the balance of the material here you can feel the effects of the decade loud and clear.

Solos lean towards the exploratory and the cathartic, with the result that no tune clocks in under eleven minutes, and bassist Jymie Merritt’s “Absolutions” pushes well past the twenty minute mark……..Read More

About the Album:

The Last Session is the fascinating final chapter in the recording career of Lee Morgan (1938-1972). Formerly a double album set known simply as Lee Morgan, this September 1971 date captures the trumpeter in a most unusual octet setting with seemingly opposing personalities. Morgan and company tackle five long, modally-based songs here and while it’s not always satisfying, compelling sounds and styles are explored throughout (most memorably from tenor man Billy Harper). Harper’s “Capra Black” opens the disc in a Coltrane-like modal/free context. Morgan, tenor man Billy Harper and trombonist Grachan Moncur III solo individually and collectively, while pianist Harold Mabern lays down Tyneresque chordal vamps. Harper shines brightest here, but Morgan fans will welcome the familiarity of the trumpeter’s and pianist’s solos. Morgan returns to more familiar modal ground on Mabern’s 16-minute “In What Direction Are You Headed?,” the album’s best track. Flautist Bobbi Humphrey, sounding a little too much like Hubert Laws with less personality, is introduced here and Mabern does his thing appealingly on electric piano. Here, Morgan is in his element and plays well to prove it. Moncur and Harper also take long, worthwhile solos……Read More

 

Listen to the Podcast Here, Enjoy!

Part One:

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Part Two:

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Part Three:

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