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Hard Bop: Lee Morgan, Vol. 3

Lee Morgan

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Album Review

Vol. 3 is Lee Morgan's final recording from a series done in the spring of 1957, an important year not only for the teenage trumpeter, but for the dominant hard bop sound that swept the landscape of modern jazz. Morgan preferred the sextet format at this time, recruiting alto saxophonist Gigi Gryce and retaining tenor player Benny Golson, while grabbing bassist Paul Chambers and pianist Wynton Kelly from the Miles Davis/John Coltrane combo. The selection of lesser-known but very talented drummer Charlie Persip for this date is a wise choice, as he is more homogeneous to the composed jazz of Golson, which comprises this entire set. Because of the Golson factor, the music is consistent, but not the hard bop blowing session some may have expected. "Tip-Toeing" is inspired by Persip's fanciful, cat-and-mouse-type drumming in a delicate strut drenched in blues, with wonderful solos from Chambers and the author/saxophonist. On other side of the coin, "Domingo" is not Latin-flavored, but instead a straight hard bop line, as the three horns are locked in with great invention and energy. The barren Minnesota flatlands that inspired "Mesabi Chant" are hardly represented by an arid feeling, but instead are enabled by the desolation to create a complicated construct via a 34-bar (not 32-bar) chorus, an aspect that identifies Golson's emerging ideas as a unique jazz composer. The best and most unusual track of the bunch is "Hasaan's Dream," where the expressive flute playing of Gryce and tacit piano give an open-ended Arabic or Asiatic feel to the piece, as underscored trumpet and tenor preclude the held tension of Chambers, leading to a most lovely, easily rendered bop. There's an immortal version of "I Remember Clifford" as well, with Morgan pouring his heart out, while the horns act as musical pallbearers for the late Clifford Brown, who died less than a year prior. This is one of the earliest, and best, recorded versions of this Golson-penned tribute to Brownie. A composed (in more than one way) and relaxed session for this stellar small ensemble, it also brings forth the intelligence and street smarts of all the players, one of the best recordings in Lee Morgan's early career and well worth a hearty recommendation to all. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: 10 July 1938 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s

A cornerstone of the Blue Note label roster prior to his tragic demise, Lee Morgan was one of hard bop's greatest trumpeters, and indeed one of the finest of the '60s. An all-around master of his instrument modeled after Clifford Brown, Morgan boasted an effortless, virtuosic technique and a full, supple, muscular tone that was just as powerful in the high register. His playing was always emotionally charged, regardless of the specific mood: cocky and exuberant on up-tempo groovers, blistering on...
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