Lee Morgan's 75th Birthday Anniversary
Lee Morgan told Nat Hentoff in 1960, "I don’t think I have a completely original style, though I have an identity. An identity is when someone who knows jazz can say, ‘that’s Lee Morgan playing,’ but my basic style is composed of a strong Fats Navarro/Clifford Brown influence, and Miles and Dizzy, and then again a Bud and Bird thing. I think a definite style comes with living and experience and traveling until you play what you are...You play yourself through the horn."
Morgan was a 22 year-old when he expressed his concern to Hentoff, but by 1972, the year he was shot to death by his common-law wife outside Slug’s Saloon in New York, he had absorbed his influences and become virtually unmistakable to anyone who “knew jazz.” Brash and brassy, coy and staccato, feared by Freddie Hubbard because he "played with so much fire," by his late 20’s Morgan was one of the most recognizable and prolific trumpet stars of jazz. Like his hero Clifford Brown, he lived just long enough to establish a "definite style,” and then some.
We'll mark Lee Morgan's 75th birthday anniversary in tonight's Jazz a la Mode. Join me at 8 for his recordings with John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Art Blakey, Hank Mobley, and his performances of “Nostalgia” by Fats Navarro, and "I Remember Clifford,” both made when he was 18.
Here’s Morgan in 1960 with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (Benny Golson, Bobby Timmons, and Jymie Merritt) playing Golson’s “threnody” for Brownie.
And here he is with the Messengers in 1965 with the legendary John Gilmore on tenor saxophone.