Warming Up

Warming Up

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guess The Trumpet Player Winner

Thanks to all who listened to last Friday’s track and to those who ventured a guess. I thought that this week’s player was pretty easy to identify and sure enough, the correct answer came rather quickly – from someone who really knows her trumpet players. The winner of the twenty-third edition of the Outside Pants Guess The Trumpet Player contest is…….my mom! Nice work, Mom.

So the tune is the title track off of Lee Morgan’s 1964 (though it was posthumously released in 1981 – why the wait? It’s a killing record!) Blue Note record “Tom Cat.” Morgan was one of the best. Period. He’s been one of my favorites since I first started listening to jazz back in high school. He’s funky, bluesy, ballsy, romantic, gritty, dirty, beautiful, evil, saucy. The Sidewinder, The Cooker, The Rumproller, The Gigolo, The Procrastinator, The Rajah, Morgan the Pirate, Howdy Doody. One of the baddest ever. And “Tom Cat” is a lesser-known record in Morgan’s discography, but it is really well worth picking up. Swings all the way through – as if that’s a surprise.

I never really knew much about Lee Morgan as a person until I read the excellent 2008 biography by
Jeff McMillan entitled "DelightfuLee: The Life and Music of Lee Morgan.” The book was meticulously researched and compiled. If you like Lee Morgan and/or enjoy reading about the lives of musicians/artists, this is a great read. Morgan was a mess of a human being after he got hooked on junk while playing with Art Blakey’s band. He was so young then. Only twenty when he first started with Buhaina. And if you want to read an excellent account of his death, check (via trumpeter Jason Palmer’s website) out the story of the woman who shot him: Helen Morgan.

Lee Morgan made some amazing music. He was an incredible talent on the trumpet. He was a gifted if under-appreciated composer. He was a giant. Oh yeah, he was also a Philadelphian.

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