Morgan is a member of the trumpet pantheon, who performed with confidence, control and sensitivity until his life was cut tragically short in 1972. Now hear what caught the world’s ear when he first stepped up to the mike, brash and cool, with his whole, brief life ahead of him.
-"CANDY"-Lee's second album, and first on the Blue Note label was recorded November 19,1957 & February 2, 1958. Artist on the dates included Sonny Clark, Piano; Doug Watkins, Bass; Art Taylor, Drums. Cuts: 1. Candy (7:00)
2. Since I fell For You (5:35) - 3. C.T.A. (5:00) - 4. All The Way (7:20) - 5. Who Do You Love, I Hope (4:57)
6. Personality (6:10) - 7. All At Once You Love Her (5:27).
Produced By: Alfred Lion; Recording: Rudy Van Gelder; Cover Design: Reid Miles.
-"LEEWAY"- This third outing shows Lee as he is steadily and rapidly growing. As a sideman with drummer, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, This is Lee's second showcase as leader and front man, with none other than the Messengers as his group. His tribute to Blue Note founders Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff is, in my opinion one of the highlights in a bright and promising career. The personnel on this date (April 28, 1960) are: Jackie McLean, Alto Sax; Bobby Timmons, Piano; Paul Chambers, Bass; Art Blakey, Drums. Cuts: 1. These Are Soulful Days (9:23)
2. The Lion And The Wolff (9:39) - 3. Midtown Blues (12:08) - 4. Nakatini Suite (8:09).
Produced by: Alfred Lion; Recorded by: Van Gelder Studios; Photos: Francis Wolff; Cover Design: Reid Miles.
"THE SIDEWINDER"-According to Alfred Lion, in the "History of Bluenote - 60 years of Jazz Excellence" in late '62 thru '63, Blue Note and the jazz industry were going through some difficult times financially. Lee was enjoying mild success, but records weren't selling the way producers like to see them sell. In undoubtedly, the most successful composition of his entire career, Lee went into the studio and penned what was to become his signature song, "The Sidewinder." Upbeat and bouncy, the song has that catchy "thang" that was needed to put him over the top. An instant hit! After 35 years, "Sidewinder" is still heard on jazz stations across the United States and Canada on a daily basis!
Lion notes in his narrative, that sales of the Sidewinder were instrumental in saving Blue Note from bankruptcy. Royalties were pouring in for Lee also. Those of you old enough to remember, if you don't know the song by name, you will instantly recognize it as the theme music for the old Chrysler commercials in 1964-65.
Unfortunately, Lee who wrote many great tunes after "Sidewinder", would never enjoy the wild, "roller-coaster" ride of instant success and fame again. "Til the day of his death, Lee could never get off stage without playing "The Sidewinder". Funnier even still, the many outtakes and renditions he improvised, were never satisfactory. The fans always clamoured for the "original version".
Cuts: 1. The Sidewinder (10:24) - 2. Totem Pole (10:130) - 3. Gary's Notebook (6:03) - 4. Boy What A Night (7:31) - 6. Hocus-Pocus (6:21)
Personnel on this date (December 21, 1963) are: Joe Henderson, Tenor Sax; Barry Harris, Piano; Bob Cranshaw, Bass; Billy Higgins, Drums. Recorded: Van Gelder Studios; Photos: Francis Wolff; Cover Design: Reid Miles
"SEARCH FOR THE NEW LAND"....At the beginning of his career, Lee Morgan was impressive in terms of the carefree ebullience of his spirit and his often dazzling technique. To this listener, the current Lee Morgan is more impressive because in the past eight years, Lee has considerably expanded his knowledge about himself; and consequently, his music encompasses a broader and, I feel, a deeper range of emotions.
The ebullience often asserts itself, but has been tempered with an awareness of the shadows as well as the kicks of being a part of this complexly demanding era.The technique is more fluid than it ever was, but it is no longer indulged in for its own careening sake. My point is that the Lee Morgan identity has become a great deal clearer to him and at the same time, the need to communicate that identity through his music is enabling him to forge an increasingly, unmistakable, and resourceful style. As his searching continues, he is likely to find more and more new lands!"
Personnel on this date (February 15, 1964): Wayne Shorter, Tenor Sax; Grant Green, Guitar; Herbie Hancock,Piano; Reginald Workman, Bass; Billy Higgins, Drums. Cuts: 1. Search For The New Land (15:44) 2. The Joker (5:03) 3. Mr. Kenyatta (8:43) - 4. Melancholee (6:13) - 5. Morgan The Pirate (6:30). Produced by: AlfredLion; Recording by: Rudy Van Gelder (Van Gelder Studios);
-"THE GIGOLO"- "With certain musicians I associate certain striking events. Sarah Vaughan scat singing at three in the morning at Minton's years ago. Sonny Stitt one nigh in a club long since disappeared suddenly stunning the audience, stilling all conversation, with a solo that literally turned heads. Lee Morgan, not yet twenty at the time, at Birdland in the late 1950's. He was in Dizzy Gillespie's big band, and although I'd heard about Lee from friends in Philadelphia, I'd never heard him play. The band was into A Night In Tunisia, and the arrangement had a long break--a cadenza really--in which Dizzy usually exploded into a musical equivalent of the Aurora Borealis. But that night, the thin, jaunty kid from Philadelphia took over that challenge, and in front of Diz himself, Lee split the sky! In a manner of speaking of course. But the impact was such that you knew something had happened that you would never forget.
In the years after, and into now, Lee became one of my favorite musicians........My favorite musicians are those who make me feel, especially those who who can make me feel good as well as vulnerable, sanguine as well as mortal. That's why I loved Billie Holiday so mudh--she could make you feel like the first day of spring and also like having Christmas lunch alone in a self service cafeteria. She had range.
What I've dug about Lee is that he can plunge into bllues, soar with crackling high spirits, and play on a ballad as if it were a woman. All done with authority, with crispness, with a strong sense of self. When Lee has a rhythm section that is right for him--as in this album--the experience is as re-invigorating as that first taste after a long, gritty, day!" --NAT HENTOFF
Personnel on this date (July 1, 1965): Wayne Shorter, Tenor Sax; Harold Mabern, Jr., Piano; Bob Cranshaw, Bass; Billy Higgins, Drums. Cuts: 1. Yes I Can, No You Can't (7:23) - 2. Trapped (5:57) - 3. Speedball (5:29) 4. The Gigolo (11:00) 5. You Go To My Head (7:18) - Produced by: Alfred Lion; Recording by Rudy Van Gelder (Van Gelder Studios); Cover Photo: Francis Wolff; Cover Design: Forlenza Venosa Associates.
-"CORNBREAD"-"TV VIEWERS of the 1965 World Serie, if they weren't in the kitchen grabbing a brew between innings, most likely heard a finger-popping blues behind the automobile commercial. It was The Sidewinder by Lee Morgan. The use of jazz in TV commercials has both good and bad aspects. Here the music was being played faithfully, to its fashion and, as such, was representative of Lee Morgan's new success.
If the music from Morgan's albums subsequent to the The Sidewinder have not been utilized by Mad Ave., it has been heard on the radio -- AM and FM -- and on many a home music system. These albums have enabled him to form his own group which have played in nightclubs of some of the eastern seaboard's larger cities. Lee, who had been with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers from 1958 into 1961, rejoined Blakey in 1964, but 1966 found him on his own.
In a June engagement at Slug's, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley and drummer Billy Higgins were members of Morgan's group. Here, they are part of his recording group along with three others who are no strangers to their session mates or Blue Note listeners: Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock and Larry Ridley.
The name of the title number, Cornbread, may stir the memories of you older fans. Back in 1948, tenor man Hal Singer made a record called Cornbread. It enjoyed so much popularity that he soon became know as Hal "Cornbread" Singer. Lee's Cornbread has some of the same basic ingredients as Singer's but its texture and flavor -- to say nothing of its shape -- mark it as an exclusive product of the Morgan oven.....Other than Ill Wind, all the tunes in this set are from the pen of Lee Morgan.......Lee is not only one of our brigthest trumpeters, he is also an accomplished composer......And speaking of cornbread -- I'm sure there are many places where it is done well in New York City, but two that I know are the Copper Rail on 7th Ave. and Minton's Playhouse on 118th St., and on Blue Note LP 84222."----------IRA GITLER
Personnel on this date (September 18, 1965): Jackie McLean, Alto Sax; Hank Mobley, Tenor Sax; Herbie Hancock, Piano; Larry Ridley, Bass; Billy Higgins, Drums. Cuts: 1. Cornbread (9:00) - 2. Our Man Higgins (8:50) - 3. Ceora (6:20) 4. Ill Wind (7:55) - 5. Most Like Lee (6:45). Produced by: Alfred Lion; Recording by: Rudy Van Gelder; Photo: Francis Wolff; Cover Design: Reid Miles.
-"CARAMBA!"-Recently, I was playing a record for a non-musician friend, a hip though non-performing follower of the jazz scene. His first comment was: "The trumpet player sure has a good sound.” A minute later, he added: "He phrases well. He knows how to use space. Of course! It's Lee Morgan.
"This is the way it should be; the personality and individuality of a soloist should be strong enough to assure recognition, yet never obtrusive enough to smack of gimmickry. I can think of two or three nationally known hornmen who are, on a blindfold test, just as easily detectable as Lee Morgan, but artistically, it avails them nothing, since the musical statements they are trying to make have no inherent validity.
Lee Morgan has been pretty much his own man for the best part of a decade now. Perhaps the quest for individuality began on the very day his sister Ernestine bought him his first trumpet as a 14th birthday present, July 10, 1952, and arranged for him to start taking lessons. Certainly there were strong influences along the way, as there are for all of us, whether we design music or words, or jewelry, or clothes. As I commented in previous notes on him, in the early years he came under the influence of several men whom he admired for several elements: Dizzy Gillespie for his masterful control, Miles Davis for his use of space, Clifford Brown, Kenny Dorham, And most of all, the tragically, short-lived Fats Navarro. But all these factors coalesced, and by the time of Lee’s second incumbency as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messenger’s, in 1964-5, his personality as both a soloist and composer were fully formed.......Lee Morgan at 30, a young man that has spent half his life as a professional musician, has not deviated from the path along which he began to move when we first heard his teen-aged excursions. He is more than ever his own man, and as time goes by, more and more listeners will react like my friend who said: “he has a good sound…he phrases well…he knows how to use space…Of course! It’s Lee Morgan.”
-----------LEONARD FEATHER (Author of The Encyclopedia Of Jazz in the ‘60’s)
Personnel on this date (May 3, 1968): Bennie Maupin, Tenor Sax; Cedar Walton, Piano; Reggie Workman, Bass; Billy Higgins, Drums. Cuts: 1. Caramba (12:23) - 2. Suicide City (7:30) - 3. Cunning Lee (6:11) - 4. Soulita (6:00) 5. Helen's Ritual (6:27). Produced by: Francis Wolff; Cover Design: Forlenza Venosa Associates; Cover Photo: Charles Keddie; Recorded by: Rudy Van Gelder (Van Gelder Studios). BST 84289.
-"CHARISMA"-"Wherever the jazz is winds blow, you'll find Lee Morgan blowing straigh ahead and swinging. He blows with an unflagging zeal tempered with superb control. Add to this a few more Lee Morgan fundamentals such as a sense of good taste and perception, and you have clues to his charismatic powers.
From his debut as a teen-age jazz trumpeter, Lee's style and sound have abounded with a warm joi de vivre. Nearly seventeen years ago on his 14th birthday, Lee started to weave his magical dreams. With an almost urgent sense of motivation, Lee became technically articulate almost immediately. This firm grasp was expressed in a personal, exuberant and outgoing approach. Before he was out of his teens, he was playing in the crack trumpet squad of the Dizzy Gillespie big band...........charisma is a rare, awesome and beautiful thing and should not be over-used or abused. Finally, the aura of charisma by Lee Morgan and his jazz colleagues transcends further comment....you can dig it. -----------HERB WONG
Personnel on this date (September 29, 1966): Jackie McLean, Alto Sax; Hank Mobley, Tenor Sax; Cedar Walton, Piano; Paul Chambers, Bass; Billy Higgins, Drums. Cuts: 1. Hey Chico (7:15) - 2. Somethin' Cute (5:36) - 3. Rainy Night (5:36) - 4. Sweet Honey Bee (6:51) - 5. The Murphy Man (7:31) - 6. Double Up (6:01)
Produced By: Francis Wolff; Recorded by: Van Gelder Studios; Cover Design: Ann Meisel; Photos: Francis Wolff. BST 84312.
-"TOM CAT"-"At the age of 18, Lee Morgan was playing in Dizzy Gillespie's big band and making his first album as a leader for Blue Note. In the summer of 1961, having just turned 23, and with seven albums on Blue Note and two on Vee Jay to his credit and after a fruitful three and one half year stint with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, this renowned trumpet star slipped quietly from the limelight to his hometown Philadelphia to sort out his personal problems, the most significant of which was heroin addiction. At the end of 1963, Lee was ready to re-enter the scene and pick up where he left off.....in December, he recorded a new album for Blue Note (The Sidewinder) and again in February '64 a second session (Search For The New Land). While he was waiting for these albums to be issued, he sat idly in a residential hotel in New York.
On August 11, Lee went back into the studio to record this session Tom Cat. Blakey, who had stopped doing sideman recording dates in early 1962, was willing to do this one for Lee. Meanwhile, The Sidewinder was released. As the story goes, neither Lee nor Alfred Lion of Blue Note plotted musically for a smash. In fact, the company only issued about 4000 copies upon release.
Needless to say, they ran out of stock in three or four days, and The Sidewinder became a runaway smash, making the pop 100 charts. It was heard on juke boxes, AM stations, as a theme for television shows and even on a Chrysler automobile ad on TV. Jazz had its first crossover hit!
The result was a considerable amount of rethinking by Blue Note and a certain amount of pressure applied to them from their distributors to come up with more of the same. Search For The New Land and Tom CAT were shelved temporarily, while Morgan returned to the studio to try for a follow-up, which was Andrew Hill's The Rumproller. Search was eventually issued a few years later, but Tom CAT was somehow forgotten until its first release in 1980 (8 years after his untimely death), yet this is one of Lee's finest sessions with a superb cast and some of the man's best writing.........it brought out the best in his compositional talents.....In both his writing and his playing, Morgan's identity did become a definite style. His cockiness and, most of all, his soulfulness came resounding through everything he produced......----MICHAEL CUSCUNA
Personnel on this date (August 11, 1964): Jackie McLean, Alto Sax; Curtis Fuller, Trombone; McCoy Tyner, Piano; Bob Cranshaw, Bass; Art Blakey, Drums. Cuts: 1. Tom Cat (9:42) - 2. Exotique (9:31) - 3. Twice Around (7:32) - 4. Twilight Mist (6:54) - 5. Rigormortis (7:28). Produced by: Alfred Lion; Recorded by: Van Gelder Studios; Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder; Photo: Goro Kunsada. LT-1058
-"Live At The LIGHTHOUSE"-Shortly after Lee Morgan's death, a few bootleg LP's were issued that were rumored to be outtakes from the "Live At tThe Lighthouse" dates for Blue Note. In 1991, FRESH SOUNDS records from Spain issued two CD's that contained all of the music from the two bootleg LP's and claimed officially that these tracks were recorded at the "Lighthouse" during Lee's stand in July of 1970. Most collectors took this as gospel. In the summer of 1993, I went into the Blue Note vaults to confirm this rumor, and found out that the FRESH SOUNDS CD was not from the unissued material still held in the BLUE NOTE vaults. A phone call to Bennie Maupin unraveled the mystery surrounding these bootleg issues.
Lee's band was on a swing out to the west coast. The group performed at the 'Both/And' in San Francisco for two weeks prior to opening in L.A. at the 'Lighthouse'. During this stand in 'Frisco, a local radio station recorded two sets for broadcast at a later time. It was from these broadcasts the these tapes were circulated into the bootleg community. With the mystery solved, Blue Note felt that it was a good time to re-evaluate this band, and the decision was made to assemble as complete as possible a stronger picture of Lee Morgan and his quintet "Live At The Lighthouse". The four tracks that were originally issued have been remixed and eight unissued tracks have been added, including a guest appearance by Jack DeJohnette on "Speedball" and a version of Lee's greatest hit "The Sidewinder"..........----Bob Belden
"I first met Lee while I was stil a brand new member in the Horace Silver Band that included trumpeter Charles Tolliver who was laer replaced by Randy Brecker, bassist John B. Williams and drummer Billy Cobham rounded out the group. The year was 1968 and we were in rejearsals for our only European tour. During those times, many of the Blue Note musicians used the famous Lynn Oliver Rehearsal Studios. Lee heard me there with Horace and asked me to do a recording with him. I was elated and a few weeks later we recorded the album "Caramba" with pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Billy Higgins. Being in the studio with these musicians was a dream that came true. This session is one of my greatest treasures!"...........I'm most fortunate to have had Lee Morgan as a major musical mentor and friend. Twenty five years later this music is being made available to the listening public. I extend my deepest gratitude and thanks to Michael Cuscuna, Bob Belden, David Weiss and Blue Note Records for making it possible. Lee was a musical giant and his work on this project reveals the majesty of a great victorious spirit. Thank you Lee and I'll see you later!"-----Bennie Maupin 1995
".........Now I have the opportunity to relive and rehear twelve sets of the most material ever recorded at the Lighthouse by anyone. In my mind, you have here the work of a jazz great, silenced before his time, one who passes the test of time, proving once again that real art is timeless."-----------Howard Rumsey
[Howard Rumsey was the Musical Director at the Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach, CA from 1949-1971]
Personnel on this date (July 10,11 & 12, 1970): Lee Morgan, Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Bennie Maupin, Flute, Bass Clarinet, Tenor Sax; Harold Mabern, Jr., Piano; Jymie Merrit, Bass; Mickey Roker, Drums. Jack DeJohnette plays drums on Speedball. CD 35228 (3 CD Set) consists of CD 35229 (Disc 1), CD 35230 (Disc 2) & CD 35231 (Disc 3).
Disc 1: Introduction by Lee Morgan (2:00) - 2. Beehive (15:17) - 3. Absolutions (22:43) - 4. Peyote (11:23) 5. Speedball (11:54) CD 35228 (3 CD Set) consists of CD 35229, CD 35230 & CD 35231.
Disc 2: 1. Nommo (17:50) - 2. Neophilia (18:59) - 3. Something Like This (13:01) - 4. I Remember Britt (14:55)
Disc 3: 1. Aon (13:47) - 2. Yunjanna (16:07) - 3. 416 E. 10th St. (12:11) - 4. The Sidewinder (13:40)
Original sessions produced by Francis Wolff; Produced for release by Bob Belden & David Weiss; Recorded by Dina Lappas; Cover by Patrick Roques; Photographs by Joel Franklin.
-"The Best of LEE MORGAN"-Born in Philadelphia on July 10, 1938, Lee Morgan was already a profesional and something of a celebrity in his hometown at age 15. by 18, he was a member of Dizzy Gillespie's big band and a Blue Note Recording Artist, both as a leader and a frequent sideman. By 19, he would play some of his most impressive solo's on John Coltrane's Blue Train and Jimmy Smith's The Sermon. His range was great and his sound clear and strong. Morgan had the precision and clarity of ideas that his influences, Clifford Brown and Fats Navarro possessed, but he also had a brash cockiness that gave his music an attitude of good-natured bravura.
By age 20 in 1958, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Here he could develop his composing and his soloing night after night witha master of shading and development. And with many soulful, bluesy tunes in the Blakey book, Lee evolved a style with smears and sassy half valve sounds that made him a distinctive and powerful blues player.
Always a multi-faceted artis, his range is best demonstrated in the fact that he recorded his own The Sidewinder and Grachan Moncur's Evolution (on which he did what he considered some of his best playing) just weeks apart. His own output which spanned over two dozen Blue Note albums between 1956 and his death in 1972 showed incredible range. When hew chose to compose (he did so in spurts), the results were superb. In fact, spread throughout his recordings and those of Blakey are a body of excellent and neglected works that deserve attention from today's musicians.
There are trumpeters and there are trumpeters, but few match Lee MOrgan for range, intellect and soul.
Cutsa; 1. Ceora (6:20) - 2. The Sidewinder (10:20) - 3. Speedball (5:25) - 4. A Night In Tunisia (9:15)
5. Since I Fell For You (5:35) - 6. The Rumproller (10:22) - 7. I Remeber Clifford (7:00)
8. Mr. Kenyatta (8:40) - 9. Cornbread (9:00).
Produced by: Alred Lion; Recording by Rudy Van Gelder; This compilation produced by: Michael Cuscuna; Digital Transfers: Ron McMaster; Cover Photo: Francis Wolff.
-"JAZZ PROFILE"-".........In and around working with Blakey, and after he left the Messengers, Morgan continued recording as a leader for Blue Note. First there was 1960's Leeway. Then, in 1963, Morgan penned a loping boogalooThe Sidewinder, that became a major jazz hit. While he tried to recapture that success with subsequent albums, such as The Rumproller, he never again reached that level of commercial favor again. Still, Lee made numerous high quality Blue Note albums, among them Cornbread, The Gigolo, Tom Cat, and The Procrastinator. Tunes from each of those albums are included here.
Morgan's story has a tragic end. Though dependent on heroin for much of his adult life, he had kicked that habit and was on the road to clean health when, on February 19, 1972, in an argument with his common-law wife at the jazz club Slug's on Manhattan's lower east side, he was shot and killed. Morgan was only 33 years old. In it's six tracks, this Jazz Profile collection gives a well-rounded look at Lee Morgan......."
----Zan Stewart, 1996 recipient of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award
Cuts: 1. C.T.A. (5:00) - 2. Trapped (5:57) - 3. Twilight Mist (6:54) - 4. Our Man Higgins (8:50) 5. The Procrastinator (8:08) - 6. The Sidewinder (10:20)
Original sessions produced by Alfred Lion; Compilation produced by: Michael Cuscuna; Recording Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder; Mastering: Ron McMaster; Front Cover Photo: Francis Wolff; Design by: Bau-Da Design Lab