Edward Lee Morgan (July 10, 1938, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – February 19, 1972, New York City) was an American hard bop trumpeter.
From Allmusic (Steve Huey):
A cornerstone of the Blue Note label roster prior to his tragic demise, Lee Morgan was one of hard bop’s greatest trumpeters, and indeed one of the finest of the ’60s. An all-around master of his instrument modeled after Clifford Brown, Morgan boasted an effortless, virtuosic technique and a full, supple, muscular tone that was just as powerful in the high register. His playing was always emotionally charged, regardless of the specific mood: cocky and exuberant on up-tempo groovers, blistering on bop-oriented technical showcases, sweet and sensitive on ballads. In his early days as a teen prodigy, Morgan was a busy soloist with a taste for long, graceful lines, and honed his personal style while serving an apprenticeship in Art Blakey‘s Jazz Messengers.
As his original compositions began to take in elements of blues and R&B, he made greater use of space and developed an infectiously funky rhythmic sense. He also found ways to mimic human vocal inflections by stuttering, slurring his articulations, and employing half-valved sound effects. Toward the end of his career, Morgan was increasingly moving into modal music and free bop, hinting at the avant-garde but remaining grounded in tradition. He had already overcome a severe drug addiction, but sadly, he would not live to continue his musical growth; he was shot to death by his common-law wife in 1972.
Bassist Bob Cranshaw played on Lee Morgan’s immortal “The Sidewinder.” Here, he remembers the session, and offers his thoughts on the great trumpeter, who died tragically at the age of 33:
Album of the day:
The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested “Core Collection” (with a crown) calling the title track “a glorious 24-bar theme as sinuous and stinging as the beast of the title. It was both the best and worst thing that was ever to happen to Morgan before the awful events of 19 February 1972.” The album was identified by Scott Yanow in his Allmusic essay “Hard Bop” as one of the 17 Essential Hard Bop Recordings.