Lee MORGAN

The great Jazzman trumpeter 

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Edward Lee Morgan (trumpeter) was born on July 10, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia and passed away on February 19, 1972 in New York City.

Lee Morgan was the youngest of Otto Ricardo and Nettie Beatrice Morgan’s four children. Originally interested in the vibraphone, he soon showed a growing enthusiasm for the trumpet. Morgan also knew how to play the alto saxophone. On his thirteenth birthday, his sister Ernestine gave him his first trumpet. His primary stylistic influence was Clifford Brown, who gave the teenager a few lessons before he joined the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band at 18, and remained a member for a year and a half, until the economic situation forced Dizzy to disband the unit in 1958. He began recording for Blue Note Records in 1956, eventually recording 25 albums as a leader for the company, with more than 250 musicians. He also recorded on the Vee-Jaylabel.

He was a featured sideman on several early Hank Mobley records, as well as on John Coltrane’s Blue Train (1957), on which he played a trumpet with an angled bell (given to him by Gillespie) and delivered one of his most celebrated solos on the title track.

Joining Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1958 further developed his talent as a soloist and composer. He toured with Blakey for a few years, and was featured on numerous albums by the Messengers, including Moanin’, which is one of the band’s best-known recordings. When Benny Golson left the Jazz Messengers, Morgan persuaded Blakey to hire Wayne Shorter, a young tenor saxophonist, to fill the chair. This version of the Jazz Messengers, including pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jymie Merritt, recorded the classic The Freedom Rider album. The drug problems of Morgan and Timmons forced them to leave the band in 1961, and the trumpeter returned to Philadelphia, his hometown. According to Tom Perchard, a Morgan biographer, it was Blakey who introduced the trumpeter to heroin, an addictive drug that impeded his career trajectory.

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On returning to New York in 1963, he recorded The Sidewinder (1963), which became his greatest commercial success. The title track cracked the pop charts in 1964, and served as the background theme for Chrysler television commercials during the World Series. The tune was used without Morgan’s or Blue Note’s consent, and intercession by the label’s lawyers led to the commercial being withdrawn. Due to the crossover success of “The Sidewinder” in a rapidly changing pop music market, Blue Note encouraged its other artists to emulate the tune’s “boogaloo” beat. Morgan himself repeated the formula several times with compositions such as “Cornbread” (from the eponymous album Cornbread) and “Yes I Can, No You Can’t” on The Gigolo. According to drummer Billy Hart, Morgan said he had recorded “The Sidewinder” as filler for the album, and was bemused that it had turned into his biggest hit. He felt that his playing was much more advanced on Grachan Moncur III’s essentially avant-garde Evolution album, recorded a month earlier, on November 21, 1963.

After this commercial success, Morgan continued to record prolifically, producing such works as Search for the New Land(1964), which reached the top 20 of the R&B charts. He also briefly rejoined the Jazz Messengers after his successor, Freddie Hubbard, joined another group. Together with John Gilmore, this lineup was filmed by the BBC for seminal jazz television program Jazz 625.

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As the 60′s progressed, he recorded some twenty additional albums as a leader, and continued to record as a sideman on the albums of other artists, including Wayne Shorter’s Night Dreamer; Stanley Turrentine’s Mr. Natural; Freddie Hubbard’sThe Night of the Cookers; Hank Mobley’s Dippin’, A Caddy for Daddy, A Slice of the Top, Straight No Filter; Jackie McLean’sJackknife and Consequence; Joe Henderson’s Mode for Joe; McCoy Tyner’s Tender Moments; Lonnie Smith’s Think and Turning Point; Elvin Jones’ The Prime Element; Jack Wilson’s Easterly Winds; Reuben Wilson’s Love Bug; Larry Young’s Mother Ship; Lee Morgan and Clifford Jordan Live in Baltimore 1968; Andrew Hill’s Grass Roots; as well as on several albums with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

He became more politically involved in the last two years of his life, becoming one of the leaders of the Jazz and People’s Movement. The group demonstrated during the taping of talk and variety shows during 1970-71 to protest the lack of jazz artists as guest performers and members of the programs’ bands. His working band during those last years featured reed players Billy Harper or Bennie Maupin, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Jymie Merritt and drummers Mickey Roker or Freddie Waits. Maupin, Mabern, Merritt and Roker are featured on the well-regarded 3-disc, Live at the Lighthouse, recorded during a two-week engagement at the Hermosa Beach club, California, in July 1970.

Morgan was murdered in the early hours of February 19, 1972, at Slugs’, a jazz club in New York City’s East Village where his band was performing. Following an altercation between sets, Morgan’s common-law wife Helen More (a.k.a. Morgan), shot him in the chest, killing him within moments. He was 33 years old. (Drummer Billy Hart talks about that fatal night in an “INTERVIEW” in 2006.)

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Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder

Blue Note 

The Sidewinder Cover  


Personnel: 
Lee Morgan (trumpet) 
Joe Henderson (tenor sax) 
Barry Harris (piano) 
Bob Cranshaw (bass) 
Billy Higgins (drums) 

Recorded on December 21st, 1963 

Availability: CD, MP3 download, iTunes 

Tracks: 
The Sidewinder; Totem Pole; Gary's Notebook; Boy, What a Night; Hocus Pocus 

Review: 
Simply one of the best jazz albums every released. There is a balance and economy about the five songs (all Lee Morgan compositions) and their performance that is seldom bettered. So, for example, although the opening track "The Sidewinder" runs for nearly 11 pulsating minutes, there is only just time for each of the four principals to solo once and for the whole package to be sandwiched between the opening and closing themes. Everything feels essential, necessary; one note extra or one note less in the whole piece would somehow have destroyed the balance achieved. The same could be said of "Gary's Notebook", a piece also notable for its perfect development of the tension and release aspect of hard bop as the band juxtapose between constraining and liberating time signatures. All the tracks are of the same high quality. The whole starts to sound like more than the sum of the parts the more times you listen to it. 

Most reviewers concentrate on the commercial success of the title track. Back in 1964 it was unusual indeed for a jazz track to enter the Billboard top 100. It was also unusual for a new jazz track to be taken up by the advertising agencies. Both happpened to "The Sidewinder". ("The Sidewinder" formed the backing to Chrysler ads during the World Series). The only other Blue Note track with anything like similar success was Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man". The downside was that producer Alfred Lion, struggling to make a small indpendent jazz lable pay, apparently insisted on trying to repeat the success of these two songs repeatedly in the years to come. And that repeat success proved to be illusive. 

In Lee Morgan's case, the attempt to produce another 'Sidewinder" had two limiting consequences: many of his best albums of the mid sixties were shelved before release since they did not have obvious "hit" potential and most of his albums that did make it to a release date had to start off with an opening track that was an attempt to emulate "The Sidewinder". This quickly became a formula that should have worked but did not. Somehow with the spontenaiety taken away, the balance and economy and the style that had been so overwhelmingly to the fore just melted away. It is a major surprise, however, in looking back on Alfred Lion's attempts to produce anothger "Sidewinder" that he never once assembled again the same five musicains that had come together to deliver the magic in the first place. However, the good news is that once the "Sidewinder clone issue" was taken care of, the creative freedom afforded by Blue Note was restored and a great deal of Lee Morgan's music (now made available again as remasterd CDs or as iTunes downloads) is recognised for its great value. 

The performance of these five musicians in addition to Lee Morgan's inspired writing is what makes the album so great. It was one of the great difficulties of the time that outside of a very small number of key performers (Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Horace Silver amongst them) most jazz performers could not afford the luxury of keeping together a band that could go on developing. Too much of what had to be accomplished had to be done on severely limited resources. Making a living was about the next date with a different set of musicians, wherever that might be. So, what would have happened if this band could have stuck together? 

This has much to do with the obscurity into which Joe Henderson's career had sunk before his rediscvovery in the 1990s. Without the centre of a continuing well known band set up, there was not a focus for his outstanding talents to be recognised. Compare the development of Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock from within the "shelter" of the Miles Davis group at this time. (Joe almost joined MIles ahead of Wayne in the mid sixites but somehow circumstances got in the way). 

One day's rehearsal. It may not sound like much but that was what Blue Note offered for the first time and it went some way to remedying the problems of establishing rapport with a new group of musicians at each recording. In these days of pop groups spending over a year and a million dollars in the studio before an album release it is amazing what these jazzers achieved. 

Lee Morgan's playing is mercurial as ever. As composer, he is careful not to overdominate. There is space, time and room for the other players. Barry Harris' piano playing is subtle and unshowy, something that you almost take for granted on a first hearing. But it is its sparseness and deep rhythmical sense and the way that it couples with Billy Higgins' drumming that is the key. 

When John Scofield formed his "dream jazz group" for a one off album performance ("Works for Me") in January 2000, he made it clear why he so much wanted Billy Higgins in the band: "His beat and creativity make the music come alive". And this is precisely true of "The Sidewinder". Indeed, you only have to look at the number of great jazz albums that have been informed by Billy Higgins' beat and creativity to understand what an important player he has been in this music's success over a forty year period. 

And what of Joe Henderson? Joe is not just a great saxaphone player heard here at his finest. He is a great empathiser. His is a modest and deeply democratic influence and this has in various ways at the different points of his career informed almost everything that he has done. He is also a master of technique on the saxophone; nothing as showy or outwardly revolutionary as John Coltrane; nothing as fast, flashy and out front innovative as Charlie Parker. Yet in its own modest, democratic terms Joe Henderson's playing is every bit as creative and meaningful, the more so because of its humility. Any of the five tracks could be instanced, but listen especially to Joe's soloing on "Totem Pole". Remarkable, defining. 


Overall, "The Sidewinder" is an essential album in any jazz collection. 

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Lee Morgan

BIOGRAPHY

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan.jpg
Lee Morgan
Background information
Birth name Edward Lee Morgan
Born July 10, 1938
PhiladelphiaPennsylvania, U.S.
Died February 19, 1972 (aged 33)
New York CityNew York, U.S.
Genres Jazzbebophard bop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Trumpet, flugelhorn
Years active 1956-1972
Labels BlueVee-Jay
Associated acts Art BlakeyJohn Coltrane,Curtis FullerDizzy GillespieJoe Henderson,Andrew HillCharles EarlandArt FarmerJohnny GriffinJackie McLeanHank MobleyWayne Shorter,Jimmy SmithLarry Young,Wynton KellyGrachan Moncur IIIClifford Jordan,Benny Golson

Edward Lee Morgan (July 10, 1938 – February 19, 1972) was an American jazz trumpeter.[1][2] Known mainly as one of the key hard bop musicians of the 1960s, Morgan came to prominence in his late teens, recording on John Coltrane's Blue Train (1957) and with the band of drummer Art Blakey before launching a solo career. Morgan stayed with Blakey until 1961 and started to record as leader soon after. His song "The Sidewinder", on the album of the same name, became a surprise crossover hit on the pop and R&B charts in 1964, while Morgan's recordings found him touching on other styles of music as his artistry matured. Soon after The Sidewinder was released, Morgan rejoined Blakey for a short period of time. After leaving Blakey for the final time, Morgan continued to work prolifically as both a leader and a sideman with the likes of Hank Mobley andWayne Shorter, becoming, in the words of critic Steve Huey, "[a] cornerstone of the Blue Note label roster".[3] Morgan's career was cut short at the age of 33, when his common-law wife shot and killed him following a confrontation at Slug's Saloon.[4]

 

Biography[edit]

Edward Lee Morgan[5] was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 10, 1938, the youngest of Otto Ricardo and Nettie Beatrice Morgan's four children. A leading trumpeter and composer, he recorded prolifically from 1956 until a day before his death in February 1972. Originally interested in the vibraphone, he soon showed a growing enthusiasm for the trumpet. Morgan also knew how to play the alto saxophone. On his thirteenth birthday, his sister Ernestine gave him his first trumpet. His primary stylistic influence was Clifford Brown, with whom he took a few lessons as a teenager. He joined the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band at 18, and remained as a member for a year and a half, until economic circumstances forced Dizzy to disband the unit in 1958. He began recording for Blue Note Records in 1956, eventually recording 25 albums as a leader for the company, with more than 250 musicians. He also recorded on the Vee-Jay label and one album for Riverside Records on its short-lived Jazzland subsidiary.

He was a featured sideman on several early Hank Mobley records, as well as on John Coltrane's Blue Train (1957), on which he played a trumpet with an angled bell (given to him by Gillespie) and delivered one of his most celebrated solos on the title track.

Joining Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in 1958 further developed his talent as a soloist and composer. He toured with Blakey for a few years, and was featured on numerous albums by the Messengers, including Moanin', which is one of the band's best-known recordings. When Benny Golson left the Jazz Messengers, Morgan persuaded Blakey to hire Wayne Shorter, a young tenor saxophonist, to fill the chair. This version of the Jazz Messengers, including pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jymie Merritt, recorded several albums including Africaine, The Big BeatA Night in Tunisia (1961) and The Freedom Rider. During his time with The Jazz Messengers, Morgan also wrote several tunes including The Midget, Haina, Celine, Yama, Kozo's Waltz, Pisces, and Blue Lace. The drug problems of Morgan and Timmons forced them to leave the band in 1961, and the trumpeter returned to Philadelphia, his hometown. According to Tom Perchard, a Morgan biographer, it was Blakey who introduced the trumpeter to heroin, which impeded his progression in his career.

Lee Morgan (1959)

On returning to New York in 1963, he recorded The Sidewinder (1963), which became his greatest commercial success. The title track cracked the pop charts in 1964, and served as the background theme for Chrysler television commercials during the World Series. The tune was used without Morgan's or Blue Note's consent, and intercession by the label's lawyers led to the commercial being withdrawn.[citation needed] Due to the crossover success of "The Sidewinder" in a rapidly changing pop music market, Blue Note encouraged its other artists to emulate the tune's "boogaloo" beat. Morgan himself repeated the formula several times with compositions such as "Cornbread" (from the eponymous albumCornbread) and "Yes I Can, No You Can't" on The Gigolo. According to drummer Billy Hart, Morgan said he had recorded "The Sidewinder" as filler for the album, and was bemused that it had turned into his biggest hit. He felt that his playing was much more advanced on Grachan Moncur III's essentially avant-garde Evolution album, recorded a month earlier, on November 21, 1963.

After this commercial success, Morgan continued to record prolifically, producing such works as Search for the New Land (1964), which reached the top 20 of the R&B charts. He also briefly rejoined the Jazz Messengers after his successor, Freddie Hubbard, joined another group. Together with tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, pianist John Hicks, and bassist Victor Sproles, this lineup was filmed by the BBC for seminal jazz television program Jazz 625.

As the '60s progressed, he recorded some twenty additional albums as a leader, and continued to record as a sideman on the albums of other artists, including Wayne Shorter's Night DreamerStanley Turrentine's Mr. NaturalFreddie Hubbard's The Night of the Cookers; Hank Mobley's Dippin'A Caddy for DaddyA Slice of the TopStraight No FilterJackie McLean's Jackknife and ConsequenceJoe Henderson's Mode for JoeMcCoy Tyner's Tender MomentsLonnie Smith'sThink and Turning PointElvin JonesThe Prime ElementJack Wilson's Easterly WindsReuben Wilson's Love BugLarry Young's Mother ShipLee Morgan and Clifford Jordan Live in Baltimore 1968Andrew Hill's Grass Roots; as well as on several albums with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

He became more politically involved in the last two years of his life, becoming one of the leaders of the Jazz and People's Movement. The group demonstrated during the taping of talk and variety shows during 1970-71 to protest the lack of jazz artists as guest performers and members of the programs' bands. His working band during those last years featured reed players Billy Harper or Bennie Maupin, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Jymie Merritt and drummers Mickey Roker or Freddie Waits. Maupin, Mabern, Merritt and Roker are featured on the well-regarded three-disc, Live at the Lighthouse, recorded during a two-week engagement at the Hermosa Beach club, California, in July 1970.

Death and legacy[edit]

Morgan was killed in the early hours of February 19, 1972, at Slug's Saloon, a jazz club in New York City's East Village where his band was performing.[6] Following an altercation between sets, Morgan's common-law wife Helen Moore (a.k.a. Helen Morgan) shot him. The injuries were not immediately fatal, but the ambulance was slow in arriving on the scene as the city had experienced heavy snowfall which resulted in extremely difficult driving conditions. They took so long to get there that Morgan bled to death. He was 33 years old.[6] Helen Morgan was arrested and spent some time in prison before being released on parole.[7] After her release, Helen Morgan returned to her native North Carolina and died there from a heart condition in March 1996.

Lee and Helen Morgan are the subjects of a 2016 documentary I Called Him Morgan by Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin.[8] The film premiered September 1, 2016 at the 73rd Venice Film Festival[9] and was theatrically released in US on March 24, 2017.[10] In hisNew York Times review A.O. Scott called the film "a delicate human drama about love, ambition and the glories of music".[11]

Discography[edit]

Title Year Label
Lee Morgan Indeed!   1956   Blue Note
Introducing Lee Morgan   1956   Savoy
Lee Morgan Sextet   1957   Blue Note
Dizzy Atmosphere   1957   Specialty
Lee Morgan Vol. 3   1957   Blue Note
City Lights   1957   Blue Note
The Cooker   1957   Blue Note
Candy   1957   Blue Note
Here's Lee Morgan   1960   Vee-Jay
The Young Lions   1960   Vee-Jay
Expoobident   1960   Vee-Jay
Lee-Way   1960   Blue Note
Take Twelve   1962   Jazzland
The Sidewinder   1963   Blue Note
Search for the New Land   1964   Blue Note
Tom Cat   1964   Blue Note
The Rumproller   1965   Blue Note
The Gigolo   1965   Blue Note
Cornbread   1965   Blue Note
Infinity   1965   Blue Note
Delightfulee Morgan   1966   Blue Note
Charisma   1966   Blue Note
The Rajah   1966   Blue Note
Standards   1967   Blue Note
Sonic Boom   1967   Blue Note
The Procrastinator   1967   Blue Note
The Sixth Sense   1967   Blue Note
Taru   1968   Blue Note
Caramba!   1968   Blue Note
Live at the Lighthouse   1970   Blue Note
The Last Session   1971   Blue Note

Further reading[edit]

  • Jeff McMillan DelightfuLee: The Life and Music of Lee Morgan (2008) University of Michigan Press
  • Tom Perchard Lee Morgan: His Life, Music and Culture (2006) Equinox

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Steve Huey. "Lee Morgan | Biography & History"
    AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  2. Jump up^ McMillan, J.S., (2008). DelightfuLee: the life and music of Lee MorganUniversity of Michigan Press, p.1
  3. Jump up^ Steve Huey. "Lee Morgan | Biography & History"
    AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  4. Jump up^ Collin, Kasper. "I Called Him Morgan"
     
    I Called Him Morgan. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  5. Jump up^ "Lee Morgan"
    Nndb.com. 1972-02-19. Retrieved2017-05-02.
  6. Jump up to:a b Tobler, John (1990). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 235. CN 5585.
  7. Jump up^ "R.S. MURTHI - The Lady Who Shot Lee Morgan by Larry Reni Thomas"
    Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  8. Jump up^ Mudede, Charles. "I Called Him Morgan Is a Great Documentary About an Underknown Jazz Genius - Film"
    . The Stranger. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  9. Jump up^ Lodge, Guy (2016-09-04). "Film Review: 'I Called Him Morgan'"
    Variety. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  10. Jump up^ "I Called Him Morgan | In February 1972, celebrated jazz musician Lee Morgan was shot dead by his common-law wife Helen during a gig at a club in New York City. This feature documentary by Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin is a love letter to two unique personalities and the music that brought them together. A film about love, jazz and America, with cinematography by Bradford Young"
     
    .www.icalledhimmorgan.com. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  11. Jump up^ Scott, A. O. (2017-03-23). "Review: 'I Called Him Morgan,' a Jazz Tale of Talent and Tragedy"
    The New York Times.ISSN 0362-4331
    . Retrieved 2017-05-30.

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