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LeeBop: Lee Morgan Tribute On JazzSet

Lee Morgan came from Philadelphia and lived from 1938 to 1972. At age 14, he took up the trumpet. He was still in his teens when Dizzy Gillespie hired him for his big band. Art Blakey hired Morgan for the Jazz Messengers, twice. And in 1964, the catchy Morgan track "Sidewinder" was a surprise hit. It saved the Blue Note record label, and Chrysler used "Sidewinder" in a commercial. Irony: Today, Blue Note is celebrating 70 years and Chrysler is... reorganizing.

As the late Freddie Hubbard reminisced in JazzTimes, "When 'Sidewinder' came out, Lee Morgan was bigger than Miles [Davis]. I went out and bought me a sports car like Lee had, and [we] drove down Broadway by Birdland. Miles was looking at us." Morgan's official output in a 15-year career includes more than 200 compositions, from "Afrique" to "Zip Code."

Onstage for LeeBop, the three 21st-century trumpeters are leader Dominick Farinacci (whose new album is Lovers, Tales & Dances), Jeremy Pelt (a colorist with Harmon mute and flugelhorn) and strong-toned Brandon Lee. Farinacci says that Lee plays in waves over the groove; his harmonic shapes match the waves.

"As Lee was a great stylist, we tried to pick songs that are real simple [and] beautiful, all about style," Farinacci says. As the three LeeBop trumpeters stretch out on the elegy "I'll Remember Clifford" and the high-energy "Beehive," we get a clear picture of each, ramping up in his promising career.

Credits: Thanks to Gretchen Carhartt Valade and Terri Pontremoli, who puts together the Detroit Jazz Festival every Labor Day Wweekend in Detroit, and recording engineer Timothy Powell from Metro Mobile. JazzSet's Surround Sound mix is by Duke Markos.

Copyright 2009 WBGO

Becca Pulliam, JazzSet