Morgan was a jazz prodigy, joining the Dizzy Gillespie big
band at 18, remaining a member for two years. Beginning in
1956, he began recording as a leader, mainly for the Blue
Note label, eventually he recorded twenty-five albums for
the company. Morgan's principal influence as a player was
Clifford Brown, having had direct contact with him before
Brown's premature death.
He was also a featured sideman on several early Hank
Mobley records, and John Coltrane's Blue Train. On the
latter LP, he even played a bent-up horn like Gillespie's.
Joining Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in 1958 further
developed his talent as a soloist and writer