I should start by saying, if Lee Morgan would record silence into a microphone, and will release it – I’d buy it.
He probably won’t. But even if he won’t record silence, I’d still buy it. I love this man so much.
As one of the most dominant figures in Hard Bop, Lee is hard to ignore. Some of his Blue Note albums are amongst the highlights of every jazz must have list. If you take the amazing coolness in In Search Of The New Land (with the warm fabulous tone of Grant Green‘s guitar), and the expressive The Sidewinder and his collaboration with the maestro Coltrane when he was just 20(!) on Blue Train – it’s obvious why the guy has so much respect.
True, Miles was an entrapanour and much more experimentalist then Lee. But aside for couple of signature Miles albums (ESP, Sketches, and maybe two others) – with every note Lee plays, it hits me harder then any Miles’ tone.
Take Twelve wasn’t and isn’t Lee’s most known album. It was released with Prestige, in 1962, just before his two first masterpieces were released with Blue Note (Sidewinder, New Land), and it’s easy to see how this record is somewhat ignored among those famous ‘best of’ lists, being in the shades of these two giants.
The album, nevertheless is a solid proof of Lee’s strengths as a bandleader. His players (consists of Clifford Jordan on Tenor, Barry Harris on humble and warm piano, Bob Cranshaw and Louis Hayes on bass and drums respectivley) are on top form, and Jordan’s sax is just superb with his phrasing at Little Spain.
The Latin/Cuban intro of Take Twelve (the track) is just touching, and all the tracks are really fantastic. But there’s just one track, A Waltz For Fran, That shows exactly what I was talking about earlier about Morgan recording silence. The melody is so beautiful and the players just giving themselves entirely for the track. All egos aside, the competition core of the hard-bopper is put aside, and the melody wins.
Harris’ playing on this track is just beautiful, gives it a hotel reception mood, but rich with harmony and depth, and Morgan’s playing is one of the best that I’ve heard of.
Lee With Art Blakey’s Jazz Massangers
This album should really get more respect then what he does, but I can understand how hard it is, when you have so many Blue Note masterpieces in your catalog, and fruitful collaborations, it puts aside all the ‘normal’, ‘little’ records.
Take Twelve is a must have in any Jazz fan’s library and a constant member of each ‘must have’ jazz list.
Waltz For Fran
Buy : Insound