Lee Morgan: Music for Lovers (2006)
Although annotator Donald Elfman deftly deflects the issue in his concise booklet essay, Lee Morgan was shot to death by his lover, certainly adding an irony to this disc's title, not to mention the additional irony that the compilation includes "Since I Fell For You." That might seem a minor marketing gaff, but there are fascinating ramifications. Perhaps Morgan was the supreme trumpeter of love gone south, and the kind of love that seemed most successful, in terms of the nine tunes well selected for this collection, was Morgan's love for fellow trumpeter Clifford Brown, celebrated in a memorable arrangement of "I Remember Clifford" by Benny Golson.
I find this the most listenable Morgan anthology available for several reasons. It doesn't include "The Sidewinder" or any of Morgan's many variations of that overplayed theme. It doesn't have him in a cutting contest with a younger version of himself. It underscores the Miles influence when Morgan used a mute ("Ill Wind"). And it shows his simpatico with Jackie McLean and, best of all, Wayne Shorter. It was a smart move to open up this lovey-dovey disk with a rather spritely "You Go to my Head," from Morgan's arguably most consistent album, The Gigolo. And I like the sense of Morgan's maturity you get from listening to a devoutly plain "All the Way," from 1957, to the neo-impressionism of McCoy Tyner's "Twilight Mist," from 1964.
If his lover hadn't shot him, I'm not sure that Morgan would have led a revolution on his instrument, as Don Cherry did. My guess is that he would have continued to experiment conservatively, toying with irregular phrase lengths while maintaining that heart-stopping burnished tone that linked him with Clifford Brown. And who could ask for more?
Track Listing: You Go to my Head; Ill Wind; All the Way; Since I Fell For You; I'll Never Be the Same; Twilight Mist; What Now My Love; Lover Man; I Remember Clifford.
Personnel: Lee Morgan: trumpet; Jackie McLean: alto saxophone; Wayne Shoter: tenor saxophone; Bob Crenshaw: bass; Billy Higgins: drums, Skonny Clark: piano; Art Taylor: drums; Ron Carter: bass Benny Golson: tenor saxophone; McCoy Tyner: piano; others.