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Roberto Magris Septet: Morgan Rewind: A Tribute to Lee Morgan, Vol. 2 (2014)

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Roberto Magris Septet: Morgan Rewind: A Tribute to Lee Morgan, Vol. 2 How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Not only is Italian pianist / composer Roberto Magris
Roberto Magris
Roberto Magris
b.1959
piano
conversant with jazz history and tradition, he honors it, as he has done in a series of albums devoted to the music of pianist Elmo Hope
Elmo Hope
Elmo Hope
1923 - 1967
piano
, alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
Julian
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
1928 - 1975
saxophone
and trumpeter Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
1938 - 1972
trumpet
who is saluted here in a second two-disc volume. Whereas young lion Brandon Lee sat in on Volume 1, released in 2010 (JMood 002), Morgan's surrogate this time around is Hermon Mehari. While neither one, of course, is Lee Morgan, they immersed themselves in the task at hand and carried out the arduous assignment with dexterity and confidence. There has been a change at the drum kit as well, with Brian Steever replacing Morgan's friend and fellow Philadelphian Albert "Tootie" Heath.

In an album largely centered, as Magris writes, on Morgan's intensely rhythmic and sometimes African-inflected essays (1963-68), the leader has broadened the range of color and energy by adding vibraphonist Peter Schlamb and percussionist Pablo Sanhueza to the lineup. Each one earns his spurs, with Schlamb an especially enticing soloist, remindful at times of such prominent mallet master as Gary Burton
Gary Burton
Gary Burton
b.1943
vibraphone
, Bobby Hutcherson
Bobby Hutcherson
Bobby Hutcherson
b.1941
vibraphone
or Joe Locke
Joe Locke
Joe Locke
b.1959
vibraphone
. As for Magris, his agile solos are invariably symmetrical and waste-free. The versatile saxophonist Jim Mair takes over for Logan Richardson, while the unflappable bassist Elisa Pruett returns to cement an implacable rhythm section. All of the seven songs on Disc 1 and four of the six on Disc 2 were written by Morgan (Magris composed the snappy "Libreville" and easygoing ballad, "A Summer's Kiss"). Disc 2 closes, as is Magris' custom, with a four-minute "audio notebook" in which JMood's producer, Paul Collins, and a guest reflect on Morgan's music.

That music begins with the impetuous "Bid for Sid" and includes a brace of African-influenced compositions, "Exotique" and "Zambia." Morgan also wrote "Blue Lace," "Cunning Lee," "The Sixth Sense," "Soft Touch," "Gary's Notebook," "Speedball," "Get Yo' Self Togetha" and "Helen's Ritual." While none of them quite rises to the level of Morgan's most memorable theme, the lovely "Ceora" ("Speedball" perhaps comes closest), they are never less than resourceful and engaging. The same can be said for the album as a whole, an earnest and animated tribute to one of the jazz world's most illustrious and influential standard-bearers whose remarkable career was far too brief and ended in tragedy.

Track Listing: Disc 1 — A Bid for Sid; Exotique; Blue Lace; Cunning Lee; The Sixth Sense; Soft Touch; Gary’s Notebook. Disc 2 — Speedball; Libreville; Get Yo’ Self Together; A Summer’s Kiss; Zambia; Helen’s Ritual; Audio Notebook.

Personnel: Roberto Magris: piano, leader; Hermon Mehari: trumpet; Jim Mair: tenor, soprano sax, flute; Peter Schlamb: vibraphone; Elisa Pruett: bass; Brian Steever: drums; Pablo Sanhueza: congas, percussion.

Record Label: Jmood Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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