Years ago a jazz critic of the Hong Kong press referred to Lanny Morgan as the "old master," and the moniker has stuck ever since. Now, at the ripe young age of 75, the "old master" Morgan holds court yet again with a sextet of equal masters on a scintillating session of bebop burners, simply titled "6". A legendary alto saxophonist of the same generation and caliber as Lee Konitz, Phil Woods and the late Bud Shank, Morgan moved to New York in the '60s and became part of the vibrant jazz scene there, playing with Maynard Ferguson and the Howard McGhee Big Band.
Six of the seven original tunes recorded here were written during that time, and with this release Morgan's goal was to recapture some of that era's vitality and energy. He states in the liner notes, "I was around so much great music during those years, and I tried to absorb it all, I hope some of it shows a little in these tunes." It certainly does, beginning with Jackie McLean's "Minor March," which Morgan proceeds to tear up with a rapid-fire solo, inviting the same treatment from members of his mighty sextetan A list of players including trumpeter Bob Summers, tenor saxophonist Doug Webb, in-demand West Coast pianist Tom Ranier, drummer Steve Schaeffer and bassist Chuck Berghofer.
If Morgan's intent was to lay down a bit of swing and swagger from beginning to endto feel the heat of past fires now smoldering, to light up old charts with new and invigorating energyhe succeeds well beyond expectations. Whether peeling off torrid stretches of sax lines on originals like "213 Ocean Front," swinging a beautiful melody on "Little Folks," written for his children when they were young, or bursting the charts wide open on Chuck Mangione's sprawling "Between Races," Morgan is pure alto energy.
Morgan is especially delightful on Thad Jones's Charlie Parker tribute, "Bird Song," where each member of the band lays claim to a part of the piece with a sterling solo. Beginning with Summers then Webb, the number is perfect for showcasing the crew. The music ends in something of a departure, with Morgan attempting to mimic the music of a New Orleans parade. "6" is an unqualified success for Morgan, one of the "old masters" of jazz who is thankfully still around, kicking and continuing to deliver good music for all to enjoy.
Minor March; 213 Ocean Front; Little Folks; Between Races; Rollin'; Polecat; Bird Song; Bagatelle; Pail Blues; Idyllwild Camp Parade.
Lanny Morgan: alto saxophone; Bob Summers: trumpet; Doug Webb: tenor saxophone; Steve Schaeffer: drums; Tom Ranier: piano; Chuck Berghofer: bass.
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