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A Night In the Life

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Album Review

Frank Morgan's final release while still alive stands as a testament to his gentle, unassuming soul, his fluid drive playing the bop music born from the seeds and stems germinated by Charlie Parker, and his ability to touch a live audience with music. This third volume of club dates at the Jazz Standard in New York City falls along the lines of the previous issues, with pianist George Cables, bassist Curtis Lundy, and drummer Billy Hart in capable, empathetic, and friendly support. There's nothing new or earth-shattering about the six standards and bop chestnuts heard here, but the pure love injected by Morgan, well into his seventies, is as heartwarming as it is impressive. Morgan may miss a note here or there, as on the intro number, Parker's tricky "Confirmation," but that's nitpicking. It seems his ideas flow for days and weeks instead of the eight- to ten-minute average tune he interprets. The alto sax master is truly involved with these melodies and plays them in an unhurried fashion, but seemingly can't wait to start his solos, where he truly is a master of the art. Cables provides good energy and a salacious wit, not to mention monster chops and a highly advanced harmonic chordal approach. There's a vocal quality to "Half Nelson" that can't be denied, as Morgan is literally singing through his horn, and he uses unique slightly staggered phrasings, reflective of his laid-back personality, during "Hot House." Where everyone has done "On Green Dolphin Street" to death, Morgan renders a thin interpretation, playing to and hinting at the changes simultaneously. And when he performs "Billie's Bounce," he hits the melody running and never lets up. It's hard to choose between any of the three volumes; they're all equally good, and reflect how truly talented Morgan remained even after many concerns about his health, his drug addiction, and his full embrace of the gypsy travelin' man jazz lifestyle. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: 23 December 1933 in Minneapolis, MN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

It is a real rarity for a jazz musician to have his career interrupted for a 30-year period and then be able to make a complete comeback. Frank Morgan showed a great deal of promise in his early days, but it was a long time before he could fulfill his potential. The son of guitarist Stanley Morgan (who played with the Ink Spots), he took up clarinet and alto early on. Morgan moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1947 and won a talent contest, leading to him record a solo with Freddy Martin. Morgan...
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A Night In the Life, Frank Morgan
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