5 albums from Lee Morgan – one of the coolest cats to ever handle a trumpet for Blue Note! First up is Delightfulee – really unique album from the great Lee Morgan – a set that features the trumpeter in two different settings, but in a way that really works well together! Most of the album has Lee blowing in a very cool quintet – with Joe Henderson on tenor, McCoy Tyner on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums – a group who maybe bring out a slightly hipper vibe that really points the way to the rest of Morgan's direction in the late 60s, when he was really letting some more spiritual currents loose. The other two tracks on the record feature a hip larger band directed by Oliver Nelson – swinging hard in a really soulful style! Nelson's arrangements on these two tracks are great – quite progressive, with a soul jazz big band style that seems to point the way towards the 70s – and the band provides a raging backdrop that lets Lee's trumpet soar over the top in beautiful crystal clear solos. Titles include "Nite Flite", "Delightful Deggie", "Ca-Lee-So", and "Zambia". Also features a few bonus tracks. The Cooker is a very appropriate title for a very cooking little album – one of Lee Morgan's first efforts as a leader, cut back during his first years of late 50s fame! The style here is a bit less Morgan-esque than some of Lee's later 60s classics – but the record is rock-solid throughout, and proof that Morgan was every bit as great a leader in a hardbop session as Hank Mobley or some of the other emerging heavyweights at Blue Note! The strength of the group really helps keep the fire stoked on the set – and Bobby Timmons turns in some amazing piano work alongside a lineup that includes Pepper Adams on baritone sax, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. The Adams presence gives the record a bit of the feel of some of Pepper's sessions with Donald Byrd – but the sparkling, soaring sound of Morgan makes the record way more than just a copycat set. Titles include "New-Ma", "Night In Tunisia", "Lover Man", "Just One Of Those Things", and "Heavy Dipper". Lee Way is an
undisputed masterpiece by Lee Morgan – and one of the first records in which he shed his straight bop sensibility, and began evolving into a soulful genius for the 60s! The album's got 4 long tracks that all build
beautifully – really extended numbers that break the format of some of Lee's earlier work, and hint a bit at some of the more complicated touches he'd use on later sessions. All players are great – and include fellow Jazz Messengers Bobby Timmons on piano and Art Blakey on drums, plus Jackie McLean on alto and Paul Chambers on bass. Titles include the sublime "These Are Soulful Days" – a perfect model of soulful lyricism – plus "Midtown Blues", "Nakatini Suite", and "The Lion & The Wolff". Rumproller often gets too easily lumped next to The Sidewinder – because of an
obvious title and cover similarity to that hit record – but like that one, the album's far more than jazz cliche – and shows Lee Morgan to be one of the greatest jazz musicians of the 60s. The set starts off with the title cut, "The Rumproller" – hard-wailing soul bop, in the manner of Lee's most popular work – but then it easily flows into more sensitive material that has a freer, lyrical feel – like the great original tune "Eclipso" and Wayne Shorter's "Edda" – both of which are superb. Lee is astounding, as always, on trumpet – and the rest of the group includes the great Ronnie Matthews on piano, plus Joe Henderson, Victor Sproles, and Billy Higgins. Search For The New Land is a brilliant album that proves that even at the height of his success, Lee Morgan was one of the freest thinkers on Blue Note – always coming up with fresh ideas that continued to grow his talents! The first cut on the album is keen poof of that fact – the title track "Search For The New Land" – a beautiful 16 minute exploration of modal jazz themes, with an
start device as a means of ushering solos by different bandmates – including Wayne Shorter on tenor, Grant Green on guitar, and Herbie Hancock on piano! The approach is unlike anything that Morgan ever did before – and unlike most of other Blue Note as well – and it also benefits from great rhythmic help from Reggie Workman on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. Other tunes are a bit more conventional, but still pretty special – like some of Morgan's inventive work on the Rajah albums – with titles that include "The Joker", "Melancholee", "Mr. Kenyatta" and "Morgan The Pirate".