Lee Morgan BLP 1538 GXK 8017-Story 1

This is the liner note from the Lee Morgan Blue Note BLP 1538, King Record Japan GXK 8017. This series by King Record was first released in 1979 in Japan.

The 1st Leader Session By Lee Morgan on Blue Note! by Yozo Iwanami

Blue Note 1st leader session series by King Record was to be released in 4 issues. The 1st issue - 5 albums were already released. This Lee's album is one of the 2nd issue among the 5 albums. the other 4 albums are,  Sonny Rollins Vol.1, Puttin' it Together Elvin Jones, Paul Chambers Whims of Chambers, and Fuchsha Swing Song Sam Rivers.

This Lee Morgan BLP 1538 was not only his 1st leader session on Blue Note but also the 1st leader session on his entire career. So, it is a really valuable title. Actually this BLP 1538 is now out of print in the US and the 1st reissue in Japan as well. Among the 20 titles of 1st leader session series, all titles except 6 titles were never reissued in Japan! That is why this 1st leader series by King record is really worthy.

After this 1st leader session, Lee recorded all his leader albums on Blue Note except 2 albums on Vee Jay in between. Talking about his entire career, I would say he devoted all of his career to Blue Note. The Sidewinder and the other titles after that are not that bad but to me, it is a kind of too commercial trying to sell. In that regard, early recordings like this BLP 1538, Lee Morgan Vol.2 and Vol.3, Candy and Leeway are really good and authentic. All of these titles will be released later on by King Record.

Well, here are the members played on this album.

  • Lee Morgan (Trumpet)
  • Clarence Sharp (Alto Sax)
  • Horace Silver (Piano)
  • Wilbur Ware (Bass)
  • Philly Joe Jones (Drums)
  • Recorded on 4th of November 1957 in New York 
  • Recording Engineer Rudy Van Gelder

Apart from Clarence, all the other musicians are well known. Clarence is from the same hometown with Lee in Philadelphia and a friend to Lee. He used to play at R&B bands and not well known. According to Lenard Feather, his style is like Lem Davis but I think his style is from Parker.

The drummer Philly is also from Philadelphia. So, this album is played by 3 Philadelphians actually. Benny Golson who contributed 2 songs here also comes from Philadelphia. The entire album was made by Philadelphians.

Lee was born in 1938 July 10th in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Since his father was a pianist at a local church and Lee was mingled with the music at his early age. He was taught trumpet by a private teacher and at school as well. He formed his band at the age of 15 but in 1956 October, Dizzy Gillespie who just came back from South American tour discovered Lee and brought him to his band. There,  Lee performed really well at the band and gradually his name was known. This album was recorded just after he joined the Gillespie's Band. That means because of his well known performance brought the opportunity to be featured on Blue Note. Lee stayed at Gillespie's Band until 1958 January. Lee performed at New Port in 1958 as well.

Lee recalls that he was influenced by Gillespie, Fats Navarro and Clifford Brown. In addition, he adds saying that he was little influenced by Kenny Dorham, Thad Jones and Art Farmer.

After he left the Gillespie's Band, he was playing free for some time but joined the famous Jazz Messengers in 1958 September and became a super star with his ad rib playing. Lee's presence at the Jazz Messengers was the 2nd sensational event after Clifford Brown. Brilliant sound, fantastic description, aggressive playing style, vitality and well balanced playing style both in ballads and up tempo songs, poetic interpretation...everything was superb. He was a new face and already a big star. He was only 18 years old when he recorded this album.

In 1961, Lee came to Japan as a member of the Jazz Messengers and showed to us his brilliant talent. He became the Messenger's main member with Golson, Timmons and Shorter but in 1961, he left the band and he formed his own band. Due to his fame and busy days, he was on drugs heavily and 1961, 62, he was not able to perform. In 1963 he overcame this setback and came back to New York. With the help of Blue Note, he recorded a big hit album The Sidewinder and 1964 and 65, he joined the Jazz Messengers again. He formed his own band thereafter and played constantly, but in 1972 February 19th, he was shot dead by his girlfriend.

---> the story will continue next week talking about the song titles and detailed information about those songs. So, stay tuned!

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