Here’s a selection of what I consider to some of the most classic Lee Morgan jazz trumpet solos. They obviously aren’t the only great ones, but I believe if you’re new to listening to him, this list is a good place to a start.
5. Sidewinder- Lee Morgan
There’s absolutely no mistaking who’s playing Sidewinder: it’s full of Lee Morganisms. The vocal-like double tongue and half valve effects, the laid back feel, the mixture of bluesy licks and and angular double time passages, all played with such momentum that you can’t help but tap a foot. The track is considered a classic of the hard bop genre and its catchy ‘funky’ feel has been replicated many times.
4. I Remember Clifford- Lee Morgan
Morgan’s stylistic heritage is from Clifford Brown with whom he took lessons early in his life. The sentimental I Remember Clifford is Lee Morgan at his most melodic and a fitting tribute. It’s a stand out tune for me for its simplicity. The melody is plaintive and Morgan’s solo phrases have great direction and purpose to them.
3. Blue Train- John Coltrane
Blue Train is a classic and Morgan’s solo is no exception. As well as some killing blues, he really turns on the gas in the double time section.
2. Lover Man- Lee Morgan
Probably my personal favourite of all Lee Morgan ballads. Morgan has a unique way of phrasing that is at once angular and melodic and this tune is a great example.
1. Moanin’- Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
How could it not be at number one? I’d be tempted to say the break at the start of this solo is one of the grooviest ever. All the ingredients are there for a hard bop classic. After all, the tune could just be another vanilla minor blues shuffle if it weren’t so irresistibly groovy. I defy you to listen to Moanin’ and sit completely still. Blakey’s powerful swing (and it really is powerful with that backbeat. I’ve heard him described as the Bonham of jazz drums before) and Timmons’ soulful rhythms on the piano provide the perfect platform for Morgan’s swaggering laid back feel. Just excellent.