Lee Morgan was just 18 when he led these exemplary hard bop dates for Blue Note in the winter of 1956 and spring of 1957. But, as these newly remastered Rudy Van Gelder editions attest, the Philadelphia-born trumpet phenom was mature far beyond his years, with a hard-driving, take-no-prisoners style that gained the attention of band leaders like Art Blakey and Dizzy Gillespie, both of whom hired the precocious teen when he was barely out of school.
While he was still a work-in-progress here, more a Clifford Brown acolyte than the fully developed artist of later classics like The Sidewinder or Search for the New Land, Morgan impresses with the sheer technical prowess and exuberance of his playing. Equally important are the contributions of such stellar sidemen as pianists Horace Silver (Vol. 2) and Wynton Kelly (Vol. 3), bassist Paul Chambers, alto saxophonists Kenny Rogers (Vol. 2) and Gigi Gryce (Vol. 3), tenor saxophonists Hank Mobley (Vol. 2) and Benny Golson (Vol. 3) and, on both volumes, drummer Charli Persip (still going strong today with his Superband at age 78).
Indeed it's Golson's contribution as composer and arranger that elevates these sides above the usual Blue Note 'blowing sessions' of the day. Golson wrote four of the six tunes on Vol. 2, including standards in the making "Whisper Not" and "Latin Hangover" and he penned all five tunes on Vol. 3, including one of the first-ever recordings of "I Remember Clifford," a perfect vehicle for Morgan, written in tribute to his idol, the great trumpeter Brown, who died in a car crash a year earlier at the age of 25.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Whisper Not; Latin Hangover; His Sister; Slightly Hep; Where Am I?; D's Fink.
Personnel: Lee Morgan: trumpet; Kenny Rodgers: alto sax; Hank Mobley: tenor sax; Horace Silver: drums; Paul Chambers: bass; Charlie Persip: drums.
Tracks: Hasaan's Dream; Domingo; I Remember Clifford; Mesabi Chant; Tip Toeing; Tip Toeing (alternative take).
Personnel: Lee Morgan: trumpet; Gig Gryce: alto sax; flute; Benny Golson: tenor sax; Wynton Kelly: drums; Paul Chambers: bass; Charlie Persip: drums.