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Bebop Spoken There

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Frank Morgan

I'm sure we all do it. You know what I mean, you decide to move CDs from one space to another then, midway through the operation, you stop and say to yourself, "I'd forgotten all about this guy" or, "How long have I had this album?" Sometimes you wonder why you'd bought it in the first place! Other times and today was such an occasion, it's like falling in love all over again.
Frank Morgan.
Alto saxophonist par excellence.
I should have picked up on Frank earlier - he was on Wardell Gray's last recording in 1955 and, with Wardell being a big idol of mine I should have latched on to Frank and maybe I would have had he not left the scene in familiar circumstances for the next 30 years. So my post-Parker alto adulation moved on to another flawed genius - Art Pepper.
Both musicians, despite (or maybe because of) their knife-edge lifestyle, proved, in retrospect, to be the outstanding altoists of their remaining years. Pepper died in 1982 whilst Morgan hung on until 2007.
In Pepper's later years his influence was Coltrane and he incorporated much of this into his own playing.
Those who saw him at a concert in Newcastle not long before his passing recall a fraught evening. Will he? Won't he? the answer was always a hesitant yes and we all breathed a sigh of relief when he came through. His clarinet playing almost stole the show from his alto numbers.
To get back to Frank Morgan, The CDs I discovered 'hiding' between Mooney, Joe, and Morgan, Lee were volumes 2 & 3 of a three-CD set recorded live at the Jazz Standard in NYC in November 2003.
The Parker flame still burns but Morgan [Frank] has fuelled it with some incendiary devices of his own.
I'd have loved to have been in Carnegie Hall on January 16, 1938, Massey Hall on that night in 1952 or maybe at Monk's legendary Town Hall concert but, most of all, I'd swap them for a ringside table at the Jazz Standard for Frank Morgan's gig.
Still, I've got the CDs - well two out of three - the search is on for volume one.
Apart from the alto playing, George Cables is on piano. Cables also had a long association with Art Pepper, Curtis Lundy supplies the basslines whilst Billy Hart, no stranger to Newcastle, is on drums.
Crime writer Michael Connelly and his character, cop Harry Bosch are both jazz people and the author is listed as the executive producer on The Sound of Redemption, a 2015 documentary about Frank Morgan.
There's also a fantastic concert on YouTube with Frank, Red Rodney, Monty Alexander, Rufus Reid and Roy Haynes recorded in Cannes, 1989.
A forgotten man? I can't think of anyone else I'd sooner remember and, you know what, I've just unearthed an LP - Mood Indigo. That's tomorrow night's listening taken care of!
Lance.

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