Lee Morgan wrote music that is both enjoyable and intriguing. Hits such as "The Sidewinder" and "Ceora" contain catchy melodies that bounce and sway. It’s the kind of music that stays popular through many generations. Five of his originals appear on this reissue of the trumpeter’s 1968 album; three previously unissued tracks from another recording session have been added. Born in Philadelphia July 10, 1938, Lee Morgan was surrounded by good music. By the age of 18 he was working in Dizzy Gillespie’s big band. Two separate tenures with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers extended his jazz education and armed the trumpeter/composer with the tools he needed to create music that would have a lasting impact. Sadly, he was murdered in 1972 by a girlfriend; Morgan was only 33. Over two dozen Blue Note albums and a handful on other labels remain as a testament to the trumpeter’s creative spirit.
Remastering with a 24-bit resolution gives the album’s sound an excellent quality. The first six tracks were recorded November 10, 1967 at the Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, while the last three come from a September 13, 1968 session. Tenor saxophonist Frank Mitchell and drummer Billy Higgins appear on both recording dates. The first session finds three horns (Morgan, McLean, Mitchell) passing the solo torch from one to another while keeping the mood cool and applying a little tension as directed by the composer. "The Sixth Sense," "Short Count" and "Psychedelic" swing with a bounce that makes them both enjoyable and yet each contains substance. It’s that same personality you hear in much of Horace Silver’s music. Cedar Walton’s "Afreaka" carries a deeper, more dramatic image over a subtle South African beat. Morgan leads a call & response pattern that weighs in with tinges of gospel. Jackie McLean is in fine form; fluid and impressionistic. Similarly, Cal Massey’s "The City of My People" carries a meaningful dirge-like statement; this one about the state of society. Morgan’s muted trumpet moans with echoes of injustice everywhere. The second session includes "Mickey’s Tune," written by Mickey Bass, which also carries a deeper, soulful theme that searches for answers. Morgan’s hard bop quintet runs through two bouncy up-tempo pieces that offer significant solo space for Mitchell. His "Extemporaneous" lights a small fire, but Morgan’s "Leebop" remains rather uninspired; it’s as if Morgan were searching that day for answers that didn’t arrive. Long a model for trumpet tone beauty and inspired hard bop writing, Lee Morgan left behind a legacy that will always bring fresh inspiration.