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
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.