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michel1969

Lee Morgan's T. Perchard biography

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I would like start discussion about Lee Morgan's T. Perchard biography. Just finished it, was very interested in the historical, biographical, recordings information etc : it is an essential research work. But i was somewhat suprised by one of the central statements of his book : basically, Perchard says that Lee was a pure and successfull hard bopper that felt ill at ease in his playing with the post hard bop evolution of jazz (let's say after his success on the Sidewinder, or after 1965)). That's why, regarding Perchard, lee was trying to gain commercial success after Sidewinder, but eventually failed. His statement is based on recordings like Caramba, Charisma, Lighthouse or last session where his playing seems not as advanced as his colleagues (Shorter, Maupin, etc...). I personnally was somewhat surprised to read this, because i have always been a big fan of this records, and found Lee fantastic on this sessions. Anyway, the Author's point of view is interesting. I'd like to start the discussion with that !

Edited by Michel

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I've borrowed this book from a friend so I've just started skmimming through it.

I did kind of get this impression as well, and I was surprised. I certainly never got an inkling that Lee felt this way (not that he would necessarily willing to admit it in print, of course). Among other things, just a few weeks before he died, he told his brother Jimmy that he did his best playing on Moncur's Evolution, hardly a hardbop session.

The author also feels that Lee's playing is very weak on Mother Ship. I agree he has chops problems on the title track, but it was the last tune of the session. In an interview shortly after, he mentions this session and seems proud to be involved in it. And don't forget that Miles copped several licks from Lee's solos on this album for Bitches' Brew!

There's much more to discuss - I've got to run for now.

Bertrand.

Edited by bertrand

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And don't forget that Miles copped several licks from Lee's solos on this album for Bitches' Brew!

Not to be a discographical dork, but how could that be since MS was not issued until 1980 or so? Did Miles go to see him live?

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Wouldn't doubt the latter point.

But who knows who threw the licks out there in the first place...

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It was an inside joke concerning a theory I had (I posted it here a couple of years ago).

In a nutshell:

1) Larry and Lee record MS (known)

2) A few days later, Larry attends the IASW recording session with Miles (known)

3) Larry slips Miles a tape of MS in the hopes of joining the band (pure speculation)

4) Larry plays with Miles on BB (known)

5) BB is heavily influenced by MS; only Miles and Larry know this, since it's not out (pure speculation)

6) Miles even uses some Lee licks from MS (subjective but I can give timings later)

Gotta run,

Bertrand.

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I enjoy Morgan on MS and Evolution, but I do have some sympathy for this point of view:

Perchard says that Lee was a pure and successfull hard bopper that felt ill at ease in his playing with the post hard bop evolution of jazz

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Sorry - more precisely (since I've no idea what he felt, other than what Bertrand posted, and that goes completely to the contrary!) - that he sounded somewhat ill at ease.

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I generally like almost all of Lee Morgan's recordings, but do get the sense that he seemed more comfortable playing Hard Bop. There is a crackling excitement filled with energy that I hear in his '50's sessions. As he moves into the mid-60's the spark doesn't seem to be as bright for me. Not that he plays poorly, far from it, but the excitement of the young Lee Morgan strikes me as a bit more tempered as time moved on.

A session such as "Peckin' Time" on Blue Note with Hank Mobley and Wynton Kelly would be a fine example of an ultra fine hard bop recording where Lee Morgan is in a truly comfortable groove that fits him perfectly.

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I strongly disagree that Lee was only comfortable in the hard-bop genre. He had actually recorded Search For the New Land which was far more forward thinking than the boogalo of Sidewinder at around same time. It was the labels decision to release the more commercially viable Sidewinder first. Lee Morgan actually appeared on some very forward thinking albums both pre and post Sidewinder. I had actually read that not only had he felt semi-trapped by Sidewinder which was a huge commercial success but would eventually grow to sort of resent it as he wanted to go in a more modal-experimental direction. It was also after Sidewinders success that Blue Note had a period of wanting every album by every artists in their stable to have a variation of.

With Blue Note, often in the sixties an artist would record many albums and what was released would be chosen by the label, often more challenging faire being unrealsed for years as is the case with Andrew Hill. To cite the string of hard-bop albums Lee Morgan put out as evidence of his preference for had-bop is inaccurate. Most often what saw the light of day was not up to the artist at all.

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I strongly disagree that Lee was only comfortable in the hard-bop genre. He had actually recorded Search For the New Land which was far more forward thinking than the boogalo of Sidewinder at around same time. It was the labels decision to release the more commercially viable Sidewinder first. Lee Morgan actually appeared on some very forward thinking albums both pre and post Sidewinder. I had actually read that not only had he felt semi-trapped by Sidewinder which was a huge commercial success but would eventually grow to sort of resent it as he wanted to go in a more modal-experimental direction. It was also after Sidewinders success that Blue Note had a period of wanting every album by every artists in their stable to have a variation of.

With Blue Note, often in the sixties an artist would record many albums and what was released would be chosen by the label, often more challenging faire being unrealsed for years as is the case with Andrew Hill. To cite the string of hard-bop albums Lee Morgan put out as evidence of his preference for had-bop is inaccurate. Most often what saw the light of day was not up to the artist at all.

It's true that to cite the string of albums wouldn't be accurate evidence of any hard bop proclivities - but I don't think that's what anyone has said...I think people have only suggested that they [subjectively, of course] prefer Morgan's playing in more hard bop-ish sessions. It's of course true that he's on Larry Young stuff, Grachan stuff, etc.

That said, I don't know that Search for the New Land is particularly progressive..?

I also think that 'Sidewinder' is not necessarily the paradigm of hard bop, so to say he felt semi-trapped by it is interesting, but I don't know how much it bears on the thesis that he sounded most comfortable in hard bop surroundings. In fact, even if it were a hard bop paradigm, I think it'd still be a consistent position to say that he sounded comfortable in hard bop, notwithstanding that he felt semi trapped by it!

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"Feeling comfortable" in a particular bag is not necessarily something all musicians want at all points in their lifes.

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I strongly disagree that Lee was only comfortable in the hard-bop genre. He had actually recorded Search For the New Land which was far more forward thinking than the boogalo of Sidewinder at around same time. It was the labels decision to release the more commercially viable Sidewinder first. Lee Morgan actually appeared on some very forward thinking albums both pre and post Sidewinder. I had actually read that not only had he felt semi-trapped by Sidewinder which was a huge commercial success but would eventually grow to sort of resent it as he wanted to go in a more modal-experimental direction. It was also after Sidewinders success that Blue Note had a period of wanting every album by every artists in their stable to have a variation of.

With Blue Note, often in the sixties an artist would record many albums and what was released would be chosen by the label, often more challenging faire being unrealsed for years as is the case with Andrew Hill. To cite the string of hard-bop albums Lee Morgan put out as evidence of his preference for had-bop is inaccurate. Most often what saw the light of day was not up to the artist at all.

It's true that to cite the string of albums wouldn't be accurate evidence of any hard bop proclivities - but I don't think that's what anyone has said...I think people have only suggested that they [subjectively, of course] prefer Morgan's playing in more hard bop-ish sessions. It's of course true that he's on Larry Young stuff, Grachan stuff, etc.

That said, I don't know that Search for the New Land is particularly progressive..?

I also think that 'Sidewinder' is not necessarily the paradigm of hard bop, so to say he felt semi-trapped by it is interesting, but I don't know how much it bears on the thesis that he sounded most comfortable in hard bop surroundings. In fact, even if it were a hard bop paradigm, I think it'd still be a consistent position to say that he sounded comfortable in hard bop, notwithstanding that he felt semi trapped by it!

What I was saying was, Search for the New Land, specifically the suite-like title track is forward looking (not "progresive")incorporating things besides just straight out hard-bop. Aside from that there are his appearances on Joe Henderson's Mode for Joe (1966) his own Procrastinator (1967) and Andrew Hill's Grass Roots (1968) which all definitely contain some hard-bop components but also show that he more than experimented with leaving the hard-bop genre. He accords himself more than well on each outing and sounds completely at home. Also the final Live at The Lighthouse recordings point to a more modal-free approach and an artistic evolution which was cut short.

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"Feeling comfortable" in a particular bag is not necessarily something all musicians want at all points in their lifes.

Hell yes. -_-

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I would like start discussion about Lee Morgan's T. Perchard biography. Just finished it, was very interested in the historical, biographical, recordings information etc : it is an essential research work. But i was somewhat suprised by one of the central statements of his book : basically, Perchard says that Lee was a pure and successfull hard bopper that felt ill at ease in his playing with the post hard bop evolution of jazz (let's say after his success on the Sidewinder, or after 1965)). That's why, regarding Perchard, lee was trying to gain commercial success after Sidewinder, but eventually failed. His statement is based on recordings like Caramba, Charisma, Lighthouse or last session where his playing seems not as advanced as his colleagues (Shorter, Maupin, etc...). I personnally was somewhat surprised to read this, because i have always been a big fan of this records, and found Lee fantastic on this sessions. Anyway, the Author's point of view is interesting. I'd like to start the discussion with that !

I'm not sure that's what my book says - a smoothing of one argument here, a gloss of another there, and my points are changed somewhat! What Lee was trying to do, what he was required to do, what he was instrumentally capable of doing and what he was at all interested in doing are four different things, all of which I consider in the text. There is, as Lee himself said, a generational difference between what he and Maupin, Harper et al were up to in the late 60s, but IMHO the real question is not one of relative 'advancement' but of how far LM was prepared to deal with the saxophonication of jazz, under way since (when?) and well complete by then.

But come on, Charisma and Caramba aren't his best are they? 'Last Session' is something else entirely tho.

Tom

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'Last Session' is something else entirely tho.

Tom

Bolstered, of course, by the presence of Billy Harper, who by that time was coming into his own as not only a tremendous saxophonist but also a fine composer. The particular treatments of Harmer compositions on that album, IMO, surpass alternate versions on the saxophonist's solo albums--just goes to show what a sympathetic and adventurous band can accomplish (and there were certainly a few of those over the course of LM's recorded career, although just as many--and more--on the opposite end of things...).

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But come on, Charisma and Caramba aren't his best are they? 'Last Session' is something else entirely tho.

Tom

Just thought I'd get Yanow's AllMusic reviews in on this... :g

Review by Scott Yanow

CHARISMA

This set (reissued on CD in 1997) was one of trumpeter Lee Morgan's lesser-known Blue Note recordings but it is quite rewarding. The notable sextet (which also includes altoist Jackie McLean, Hank Mobley on tenor, pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Billy Higgins) performs originals by Morgan, Walton and Duke Pearson, including particularly catchy versions of the funky "Hey Chico" and Pearson's memorable "Sweet Honey Bee" (which should have become a hit). The three horns, all of whom sound quite individual, each have their exciting moments, and the results are quintessential mid-'60s hard bop.

CARAMBA

Until its 1996 reissue, this was one of the most obscure of all Lee Morgan Blue Note albums. A transitional effort that finds the trumpeter gradually moving beyond hard bop into more modal music, the date starts out with the surprisingly derivative title cut which is very similar to Eddie Harris' "Listen Here." Of the other selections, "Soulita" has the catchiest melody while Cal Massey's slow ballad "A Baby's Smile" was previously unreleased. While Morgan and his fine rhythm section (pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Billy Higgins) are in typically swinging form, Caramba is most notable for featuring the young Bennie Maupin. Sticking exclusively to tenor, Maupin (who would be much more distinctive within a year) mixes together Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter in winning fashion. Although not essential, this CD is a welcome reissue.

...I actually agree in that these are both favorite sessions of mine. Especially Caramba. :D But I would agree that maybe these aren't Lee's most memorable moments. But very enjoyable for sure!

Edited by Soul Stream

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caramba is one of my favorite lee morgan sets.

i sold most of the many morgan BNs i own but that one has held strong.

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I thought this was an interesting contrast. Just to show how opinions do differ on these sessions. Here's quotes from Tom's book and also David H. Rosenthal's book "Hard Bop."

Lee Morgan

His Life, Music and Culture

page 171

"Morgan's rich, quick musical imagination allowed him to get by. But by 1966, that imagination was in competition with a deteriorating physical capability to play, a problem centred on his increasingly unreliable embouchure. This prescious asset of the trumpeter's, apparently damaged already, seems to have been failing under the sheer pressure and volume with which Morgan played. That meant that his statements were bound to follow a certain pattern; with stamina in short supply, (his solo) on 'Carribbean Fire Dance'...begins high and loud but almost immediately collapses, the trumpeter spending the rest of the performance hobbling, lost, with a broken sound."

Hard Bop

page 118

"On 'Caribbean Fire Dance' the trumpeter manages to make his colleagues-Joe Henderson, Curtis Fuller, Bobby Hutcherson, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter and Joe Chambers, all pretty "bad cats" themselves-sound like a bunch of sissies beside him. The tune itself is "mean," consisting of a tension-building minor vamp underlined by an obsessively repeated cross-rhythmic piano figure and an explosive release that together create an air of foreboding. Lee's solo opens with a raw, gutteral cry that cuts through all this polymetric layering like a knife. The cry is repeated and then gives way to an urgently tumbling figure, also repeated, that falls behind the beat as it comes to a close. The total effect thus created is one of urgency held under iron control. The rest of Morgan's solo is marked by constant rhythmic displacements in counterpoint to the piano, bass, and drums, by blues-based phraseology, by his sardonic tone, and by key notes almost always bent, slurred, or half-valved: all the elements in one of the most searingly dramatic trumpet styles in all of jazz."

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Interesting how "age" and point of "hearing" influence ratings of sessions. Lee was always "fine" and the rest relates to "degrees".

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I find it hard to believe that the biography author disses the Carribbean Fire Dance solo. I agree with Hard Bop that it is an outstanding solo. Now the solos on Lighthouse are relatively short. Maybe Lee was having problems then. Most of the soloing is from Maupin & Mabern on Lighthouse. I still enjoy Lighthouse because it is Lee in a live setting and it still is terrific.

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Now the solos on Lighthouse are relatively short. Maybe Lee was having problems then. Most of the soloing is from Maupin & Mabern on Lighthouse. I still enjoy Lighthouse because it is Lee in a live setting and it still is terrific.

I've often wondered about that. Played blindfolded, you would think it was the saxophonist's gig. But Lee has some great lengthy solos on Disc 1 of the Fresh Sound "Lighthouse" recorded shortly before the Blue Note Lighthouse.

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I was interested in the point made in the book that 'Caramba' was the third best selling Lee Morgan Blue Note and even made the R&B charts (high hundreds). Strange that second hand copies of the LP are not so numerous ! For me its one of the best of the later sessions, along with 'Sixth Sense'. Nice mix of groove and adventurous material. I'd tend to agree with the comments about 'Charosma' though. A bit of a 'rote' session.

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Caramba has alway been one of my favourites LM sessions. I like the "urgency" feeling of Suicide City, for example. Lee is at his best. Another great moment in Morgan's playing is "Eclipso" on the "Rumproller". In fact, i realize that i tend to listen to Lee's later (post Sidewinder) sessions more often than his first.

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I find it hard to believe that the biography author disses the Carribbean Fire Dance solo. I agree with Hard Bop that it is an outstanding solo. Now the solos on Lighthouse are relatively short. Maybe Lee was having problems then. Most of the soloing is from Maupin & Mabern on Lighthouse. I still enjoy Lighthouse because it is Lee in a live setting and it still is terrific.

It's one of the great trumpet solo beginnings. But the middle and end are uncomfortable for me to listen to. Play it to a trumpeter - they often wince in sympathy when they hear chops going like that.

There's plenty of what I think is great music from something like this period - both Procrastinators, the rejected Lift Every Voice session (on which Lee is brilliant), bits off the Lighthouse/Both-And/whatever (I prefer the Fresh Sound), Last Session - but these are all after what I think of as Lee's late 60s turn. I maintain that musically and personally, in 66/7/into 8 he was in some trouble.

Tom

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Caramba has alway been one of my favourites LM sessions. I like the "urgency" feeling of Suicide City, for example. Lee is at his best. Another great moment in Morgan's playing is "Eclipso" on the "Rumproller". In fact, i realize that i tend to listen to Lee's later (post Sidewinder) sessions more often than his first.

Michel, the RVG Rumproller's previously unreleased version of Venus de Mildew has one of my absolute favourite Lee solos. Everyone else, Joe H especially, sounds like they know it's a rehearsal take, but Lee cuts in so hard as if to say no such thing as a rehearsal, we're doing it now ...

Tom

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