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Roberto Magris Septet: Morgan Rewind: A Tribute To Lee Morgan Vol. 2

Edward Blanco By

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Hard-bop trumpeter Lee Morgan was the first jazz idol of Italian pianist Roberto Magris influencing his music to this day. Recording a homage to the late young icon was a natural evolution that culminated in the release of Morgan Rewind: A Tribute To Lee Morgan Vol.1 (J-Mood Records, 2011). Magris now presents an audacious follow up to the first session homage on Morgan Rewind: A Tribute To Lee Morgan Vol.2, completing a very special 'tip of the hat' to a legendary trumpeter whose influence on jazz is still felt today. As good as Vol.1 most certainly was, this second chapter is even better offering thirteen tunes in a two-CD package performed by—with the exception of the pianist and bassist Elisa Pruett—an all-new cast pf players in this new Roberto Magris Septet.

The program contains eleven Morgan compositions and two Magris originals ("Libreville" and "A Summer's Kiss") in one power-packed project that features a slightly more percussive flair with arrangements that touch on Afro dancing rhythms but do not depart from its hard-bop foundation. Young drummer Brian Steever and Chilean-born percussionist and leader of the Kansas City Latin Jazz All-Stars, Pablo Sanhueza, have much to do with the new Afro-tinge of the album. New York vibraphonist Peter Schlamb and Kansas City educator, saxophonist Jim Mair (who performs on the soprano sax and the flute on other pieces as well), make immediate impressions on the opening "A Bid For Sid" while young Kansas City trumpeter and founder of the pop group Diverse, Hermon Mehari, replaces Brandon Lee and reprises the Morgan role quite nicely.

With the able support of acoustic bassist Pruett, as is evident on Morgan's sprite "Blue Lace" and other tunes, Magris performs his usual dynamic piano solos (like on "Cunning Lee" for example) throughout the recording but is quite unselfish on the album allowing other band mates to shine all over. The familiar "Speedball" kicks off the second CD in swinging hard-bop fashion showcasing strong solos from trumpeter Mehari and saxophonist Mair with the vibraphonist and Magris following right behind them. "Libreville" is another example of the Afro rhythms contained the recording but, with the arrangement provided by the leader, this expansive nine minute plus original, seems almost indistinguishable from Morgan's own music.

The hard-blowing tribute winds down with the propulsive "A Summer's Kiss," "Zambia" and the Morgan burner "Helen's Ritual." Other notable pieces on the album include "The Sixth Sense," "Soft Touch" and "Gary's Notebook." As special homage concept albums go, Morgan Rewind: A Tribute To Lee Morgan Vol. 2 just happens to be one of the finest sequels around. Pianist Roberto Magris designs a hard-driving swinging tribute to a long gone legend, transforming Morgan's bop-infused style with an energetic percussive new twist.

Track Listing: A Bid For Sid; Exotique; Blue Lace; Cunning Lee; The Sixth Sense; Soft Touch; Gary's Notebook; Speedball; Libreville; Get Yo' Self Togetha; A Summer's Kiss; Zambia; Helen's Ritual; Audio Notebook.

Personnel: Roberto Magris: piano; Jim Mair: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Peter Schlamd: vibraphone; Elisa Pruett: acoustic bass; Brian Steever: drums; Pablo Sanhueza: congas, percussion.

Title: Morgan Rewind: A Tribute To Lee Morgan Vol. 2 | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: J-Mood Records

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