The Legacy of the Jazz Messengers (4): Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder

Part 4 now of my mini-series on the Jazz Messengers’ spin-offs.

Lee Morgan

Lee Morgan was famous even before the Jazz Messengers, as he’d already played with Dizzie Gillespie. But his stardom even rose further after playing on the famous Moanin‘ album from the Messengers, which I still need to write about.

The Sidewinder

I was a bit hesitant at first whether I should really write about this particular 1963 album, which obviously is by far his largest commercial success as a leader. Doesn’t he have many other great albums, like The GigoloDelightfulee, Vol. 3, Tom Cat, The Cooker, or Cornbread, all of which I’d highly recommend.

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Well even though I wanted to be creative, and not recommend an album that made it into the Billboard pop charts (heresy!) I gave up in the end. There is something just magical about the bluesy groove of The Sidewinder’s 10:28 title track, that I just had to recommend this first. It may not be the most creative album, nor the most artistically developed, but hey, it is just addictive.

A great rhythm section

Obviously, a great deal of this addictiveness stems from the rhythm section (especially Harris, but also Crenshaw, Higgins), but we also get another taste of Joe Henderson (although his solo on the title track is not very memorable, he get’s better on Totem Pole).

And then there is Lee himself, his playing is fantastic, and he actually wrote all the songs himself. A little bit of trivia on Morgan: he died a rather unusual death for a Jazz musician of the time (i.e. not of drugs or alcohol), but was shot by his long-term girlfriend of the time in 1971 for unclear reasons.

Luckily, this is not a “one-hit-wonder” album, all the other tracks of the album are very good, I particularly like Gary’s Notebook.

Overall rating: Groovy, Baby! (formerly known as 5 stars)

Addendum: Reader Bob Ryan kindly commented here that I omitted to mention “Search For The New Land” as one of the must have albums for Lee Morgan. I absolutely concur with his opinion.

5 thoughts on “The Legacy of the Jazz Messengers (4): Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder

  1. Pingback: Musicophile’s 25 Essential Jazz Albums – Part I | musicophilesblog – from Keith Jarrett to Johannes Brahms

  2. Pingback: Album of the Evening - Page 386

  3. Jim S.

    Still slowly working my way through your top 25. The more engaged I get with other bloggers, the more recommendations I wind up with. Good problem to have I guess. Anyway, I digress. Listened to this album a couple of times and yes, for all the reasons you state, it’s quite enjoyable. I’d heard the title track, never knew who did it or the name. So thanks for this. Also, as I think you noted, hard to find that ‘Architectures’ album online. Any other Mirabassi come to mind?

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    1. Musicophile Post author

      Hi Jim,

      Glad you’re liking the recommendations. This is one of the things I love about music, there is always more to discover!

      Qobuz has a total of 5 albums by Mirabassi, all are at least good if not excellent. http://www.qobuz.com/fr-fr/interpreter/giovanni-mirabassi/download-streaming-albums

      I’ve written about Terra Furiosa, my preferred of these 5 recently: https://musicophilesblog.com/2015/12/21/giovanni-mirabassi-terra-furiosa/

      From the others I can particularly recommend Live At The Blue Note Tokyo.

      You can also find his most recent album on CamJazz: http://www.camjazz.com/releases/8052405141514-no-way-out-cd.html

      I’d personally have preferred the trio without Vibraphone but it is still a nice album.

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