Lee Morgan: His Life, Music and Culture Tom Perchard Hardcover; 256 pages ISBN: 1845532058 Equinox 2006
This is the first biography of Lee Morgan (1938-1972), an influential trumpeter who made a major impact on the jazz scene during his rather brief life. Author Tom Perchard not only details his career and analyzes his performances, but also examines Morgan's youth in Philadelphia, his personal life (heroin addiction, his difficulties with women, overconfidence) and the trumpeter's social activism late in his career. A prodigy on his instrument, Morgan was hired by Dizzy Gillespie and ended up recording as a leader for Blue Note at the age of 18 after Gillespie tried to interest Alfred Lion in recording his own big band. Gaining international exposure while touring with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the trumpeter had a surprise hit with the album The Sidewinder, though his descent into heroin use nearly ended his career for good by the mid '60s. Slowly rebuilding his life and changing his approach to playing, he was in the midst of a comeback when he was shot to death by a former lady friend in the night club Slugs' between sets.
Perchard's greatest strength is his ability to blend together elements of Morgan's life, incorporating numerous interview excerpts (many of which he conducted himself) and perceptive analysis of Morgan's recordings. When he discusses the cultural background of the times, Perchard occasionally gets a bit bogged down, but never enough to lose the reader's interest. Readers will learn a lot about Morgan's distrust of the record label owners and music publishers, his odd relationship with Art Blakey, the troubled relationships with the women in his life, his wasted years as an addict and eventual rebound. Morgan's efforts to get more work for Black musicians in television through organized protests and his contributions as a jazz educator late in his life are also explored in depth. Recommended.
I grew up listening to my father's Jazz records and listening to radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy
I grew up listening to my father's Jazz records and listening to radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy. So music and jazz specifically have been a part of me since I was born. I love and perform in all styles of music from around the world. Improvisation in jazz is what drew me in, and still does as well as other genres that feature improvisation. A group of great musicians expressing themselves as one is the hallmark of great jazz and in fact all great music.