107

Frank Morgan: Reflections

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Frank Morgan: Reflections Alto saxophonists Frank Morgan and the late Art Pepper have much in common outside their chosen instrument. Both were active on the West Coast during the rage of Charlie Parker and bebop. Both possessed a beautifully spearmint-dry ice tone in their early careers and both were unsurpassed as ballad interpreters. Both musicians recorded for Contemporary Records, often with the same sidemen. Both were heroin addicts who interrupted their respective careers for decades with incarceration before making successful comebacks. Pepper's began in the late '70s and Morgan's in the mid-'80s.

After a string of recordings for Contemporary, Antilles, and Telarc between 1985 and 1996, Morgan suffered a stroke that sidelined him until his second comeback in 2004 with the release of City Nights: Live at the Jazz Standard (HighNote, 2004) and its follow up Raising the Standard: Live at the Jazz Standard, Vol.2 (HighNote, 2005). Morgan now releases his first studio recording since Bop (Telarc, 1996) and it is no disappointment.

Reflections, just released on HighNote, should not be confused with his recording by the same title released on Contemporary in 1989. The two recordings offer an informative comparison of the pre- and post-stroke Frank Morgan with regards to his playing. The late-'80s Morgan still possessed the pent-up heat of thirty years away from regular performance. His style did not change as drastically as Pepper's after his return, but it was assertive and hungry. Twenty years later, we find Morgan with less heat but more light in his playing.

With a tone once described "like a wounded bird, the 2007 edition of Frank Morgan sounds like a well-delivered sermon on the certainty of salvation. Morgan's intonation and modulation are as sure as ever and he can still blow the best bop blown. Evidence of this is on the opener, "Walkin', which has pianist Ronnie Mathews taking the first solo after the head to be followed by Morgan, who effectively cleans the corners of the old style, showing why bop still matters so much.

"Walkin' is the only up-tempo piece on the disc. Morgan interprets Monk ("Monk's Mood and "Blue Monk ) contemplatively, showing his blues chops on the latter. Morgan reprises his performance of "Love Story, which he performed as a duet with Art Pepper's favorite pianist George "Mr. Beautiful Cables on Double Image (Contemporary). He approaches Miles again with "Solar, producing one the finest interpretations recorded.



Morgan's rhythm section is nuclear, providing rock solid time and support, leaving the saxophonist to do what he does best, interpreting classics as he makes them his own. Frank Morgan is as close to the source as the listener is likely to get.


Track Listing: Walkin'; Monk's Mood; I'll Be Around; Love Story; Solar; Blue Monk; Crazy He Calls Me; Out Of Nowhere.

Personnel: Frank Morgan: alto saxophone; Ronnie Mathews: piano; Essiet Essiet: bass; Billy Hart: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: HighNote Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "One For Cisco" CD/LP/Track Review One For Cisco
by John Sharpe
Published: May 26, 2016
Read "Strange But Not Entirely Unattractive" CD/LP/Track Review Strange But Not Entirely Unattractive
by Dave Wayne
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "Like a Bird or Spirit, not a Face" CD/LP/Track Review Like a Bird or Spirit, not a Face
by John Eyles
Published: March 4, 2016
Read "Triple Exposure" CD/LP/Track Review Triple Exposure
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Our Second Set" CD/LP/Track Review Our Second Set
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 23, 2016
Read "New York Connections" CD/LP/Track Review New York Connections
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!