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Roberto Magris Quintet: Morgan Rewind: A Tribute To Lee Morgan Vol. 1

Edward Blanco By

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With this first installment of a two-CD tribute to Lee Morgan, Italian jazz pianist/composer Roberto Magris delivers Morgan Rewind: A Tribute To Lee Morgan Vol. 1. A longtime fan of the late trumpeter, since his humble beginnings in the '70s, Magris gladly accepted a challenge from Paul Collins, producer of the Kansas City jazz label JMood Records, when he recommended the project. Making this a unique endeavor, Collins also managed to convince drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath to perform with Magris' quintet. A legend in the business, Heath was born in and grew up in Philadelphia along with Morgan, knew the trumpeter in his early days, and went on to record several albums together. A special feature of this tribute is the twelve-minute audio liner notes, in which Collins interviews Heath, convincing the drummer to revealing certain insights into Morgan's life and times as a jazz musician—truly a piece of jazz history.

Morgan Rewind is an impressive musical tribute to a legendary artist whose influence is still felt today. For the talented Magris, this project is the latest chapter in a career that continues to expand and flourish worldwide. Morgan would be proud of the way trumpeter Brandon Lee reprises his role on these charts, while drummer Heath shows no signs of slowing down. Saxophonist Logan Richardson lends more than his fair share of lead phrases and bassist Elisa Pruett holds the group together with a superb foundation.

As a tribute to a legendary trumpeter, this disc contains six Morgan pieces and a couple of Magris originals, but opens up with tenor saxophonist Billy Harper's modal waltz, "Croquet Ballet." This was a piece performed by Morgan on The Last Session (Blue Note, 1971) which turned out to be his final chapter. The Morgan tunes begin with the a superb Heath introduction on the bluesy "Party Time," pushed along by Richardson's excellent alto surges. "Lee-Too" is the first Magris original, penned for Morgan, and is quite sprite and peppery, full of swing.

Two of Morgan's most celebrated compositions, "Ceora" and "Hocus Pocus," get special treatment from trumpeter Lee and Magris, who aptly demonstrates why he is one of Europe's finest musicians. On the sharp, very upbeat "Mr. Kenyatta," the whole band plays hot and heavy on this decidedly hard bop selection, containing firm stick play from Heath, tasty lines from the leader and hard blowing from the horns. Magris pens a final tribute with "Lee Morganized," ending the tribute with a bang and not a whimper.

Track Listing: Croquet Ballet; Party Time; Desert Moonlight; Lee-Too; Ceora; Hocus Pocus; Eclipso; Mr. Kenyatta; Lee Morganized; Audio Liner Notes.

Personnel: Roberto Magris: piano; Brandon Lee: trumpet; Logan Richardson: alto saxophone; Elisa Pruett: bass; Albert "Tootie" Heath: drums.

Title: Morgan Rewind: A Tribute To Lee Morgan Vol. 1 | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: J-Mood Records

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