Frank Morgan is unquestionably a name synonymous with bebop. Since his well publicized re-emergence on the jazz scene in 1985, the veteran alto saxophonist has kept the flames of a bygone era burning through extensive recordings and performances. A Night in the Life: Live at the Jazz Standard, Volume 3
documents one of the last great bop trailblazers in a comfortable club setting playing a familiar set of straight-ahead chestnuts with a veteran group of all star sidemen. This third installment, from a 2003 engagement at New York's Jazz Standard, finds the veteran alto saxophonist in a playful mood delivering an unlimited amount of inspired blowing with the aid of pianist George Cables, bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Billy Hart.
Morgan's spiritual connection to Charlie Parker is blatant throughout, and his endearing take on the Bird anthems "Confirmation and "Billie's Bounce creates the feel of an all-out tribute disc. The saxophonist's cool approach is matched by unbridled flurries of double-time runs played with uncanny timing. Every familiar sounding twist and turn from the bebop canon is delivered with vibrancy.
Cables proves himself a sympathetic accompanist to Morgan's no-nonsense style. Always an exciting soloist, the pianist stretches out impulsively on "On Green Dolphin Street and is technically dazzling on "Half Nelson. Lundy and Hart each receive ample room for extended solos that display their muscular, swinging approach.
It would be too convenient to write off A Night in the Life as just another blowing session with predictable results. What makes this set worthwhile, as well as the previously released City Nights: Live at the Jazz Standard, Volume 1 and Raising the Standard: Live at the Jazz Standard, Volume 2, is the uninhibited passion of an authentic master bearing his soul to an audience who is appreciative of the lyrical offerings being captured.