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The integrity and consistency of trumpeter Lee Morgan’s work for the Blue Note label starting in the mid-‘50s and running through to the early ‘70s was such that in some ways it must have been taken for granted at the time. Even taking into consideration the commercial pressures that had to be present following the success of "The Sidewinder," Morgan never really made a bad record and many of them have become quintessential artifacts of the hard bop movement with the passage of time.
Fortunately, the majority of Morgan’s Blue Note work is currently available on compact disc, with the newly reissued The Sixth Sense being the latest addition to the catalog and what a rarefied treat it is. Fronting a powerhouse sextet, Morgan presents four of his originals, plus one apiece from Cedar Walton and the sadly underappreciated Cal Massey.
A prototypical date for Morgan, the session leads off with the title track, a concoction that manages to be a hybrid of a rock beat and bossa groove. "Short Count" sounds vaguely familiar, with its start and stop melody line akin to Morgan’s "Kozo." The catchy "Anti Climax" makes the most of the three-horn front line with some delicious harmonies, while the cagey Afro-Cuban beat of Walton’s "Afreaka" marks it as one of the album’s highlights.
Following the original program are three supplementary tracks that come from the previously unissued Blues For Mr. Tatum date and according to reissue producer Michael Cuscuna they are the only salvageable cuts from what he calls on the whole an abysmal session. It is hard to imagine this being the case owing to the overall quality of these three. In addition to some keen writing and spirited solo work from Morgan and pianist Harold Mabern, they also serve as more tangible evidence of the talents of tenor saxophonist Frank Mitchell, a highly obscure player whose gutsy sound adds greatly to the success of all the material on this disc.
Although regrettably overlooked when it was released in 1968, The Sixth Sense will probably now receive the dues it is owed and that’s a positive outcome for what in many ways is a minor gem.
Track Listing: The Sixth Sense, Short Count, Psychedelic, Afreaka, Anti Climax, The City of My People, Extemporaneous, Mickey
Personnel: Lee Morgan- trumpet, Jackie McLean- alto saxophone (tracks 1-6 only) , Frank Mitchell- tenor saxophone, Cedar Walton- piano (tracks 1-6 only), Harold Mabern- piano (tracks 7-9 only), Victor Sproles- bass (tracks 1- 6 only), Mickey Bass- bass (tracks 7-9 only), Billy Higgins- drums