posted by Robert J. Carmack #@blues2jazzguy
Lee Morgan Musician,Composer and Bandleader
b. July 10, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
d. February 19, 1972 in New York City, New York Jazz trumpeter, mainly associated with hard bop, known for his work with Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, and Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, as well as his 1963 album The Sidewinder. He was fatally shot in 1972.
Whenever this date of July 10 rolls around , I get a very special feeling and need to go hear some powerful trumpet playing to personally commemorate the legacy of Lee Morgan. Unfortunately, I’m unable to hear anyone that comes near or even a reasonable facsimile.
For the last 40 years since his death, IMHO, its been almost as if trumpet players danced around the proverbial “first chair” left vacant and caused by a jealous woman’s bullet at a jazz club in New York .
My first introduction to Lee Morgan was the Sidewinder in 1964 as a budding musician listening to my Dad’s records trying to emulate what I heard on the 33 1 /3 LP records we played on the home stereo record player. I can hear that funky bass line intro even now, as I’m writing this piece. The title track “Sidewinder” came last on the recording session, as witnessed and told by bassist Bob Cranshaw on a filmed interview about Blue Note Records. He went on to say they were at a stand-still in the recording session, Lee went to the bathroom, and while he was gone, he came up with the finished part of the untitled cut. They went ahead with the final recording ,capturing all of the tenacity, swag, artistry and the ancestors blessings on what later became the biggest Jazz hit of all times. Even being placed in a “Buick” automobile commercial in the 1964 World Series. Lee was on the “Jazz Map” and Blue Note was ready to step in and take full advantage by bringing him in on a bevy of recording sessions between 1964 and 1972 up to his death .
1964’s Search for the New Land another of my favorites by Lee Morgan. It signaled a change in directions musically to a modal approach and away from the bebop changes with heavy chords that bound the soloists. He appeared to be moving into a style of some of the young lions of the late 60s and early 70s the likes of Saxophonist, Billy Harper, his writing set-off a new “Inside/out ” sound with Croquet Ballet, Capra Black and multi-reed man Benny Maupin’s Neophilia, bringing back into the jazz idiom, the Bass Clarinet as a solo instrument. Spawned from Morgan’s last two albums recorded before his demise in 1972. Lee Morgan – a double album released in 1972 ,just prior to his death and another double album project recorded live at the famous LA Jazz spot, The Lighthouse. Released in 1971 after recording in Summer 1970. Both are stellar recordings with quite different personnel.
I hope if you have not listened to Lee Morgan before , you give it a try.. You will become a fan for life. There is a lifetime of Lee Morgan music and stories to boot! visit the Blue Note catalog or google his name for his many sideman recordings also.especially the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey.
I also recommend reading the story about the death of Lee Morgan in book form..
THE LADY WHO SHOT LEE MORGAN by LARRY RENI THOMAS