Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder (Vinyl)

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1964 album by one of Hard Bop's greatest trumpeters, Lee Morgan, recorded at the Van Gelder Studio in Englewood, New Jersey, U.S. The infectious title track is perhaps Morgan's all-around best-known composition, which would go on to become a jazz standard, influencing sounds of future boogaloo and soul-jazz. The remaining tracks on the album are more conventionally Hard Bop, yet still forward thinking and universally solid.

Mastered from the original analogue tapes.


When Alfred Lion gave RVG the “Roll tape!” command that debuted the recording session of “The Sidewinder”, precisely one month had elapsed since Lee Morgan’s involvement, as a side man on Grachan Moncur III’s “Evolution”, the confirmation Lion needed – a previous session for Hank Mobley’s “No Room For Squares” had been a 1st sign – the trumpet player was solidly back on his feet (and lips).
As he came out of a period of debilitating, serious heroin addiction, which coincided with his departure from Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, a couple of years roaming in obscurity with few occasions to perform or record that crippled his ascension to the role of Clifford Brown’s “successor”, his visibility overtaken by other young trumpet players such as Freddie Hubbard, Don Cherry or Don Ellis, Lee grabbed the chance to born again with both hands, body and soul; not only did he restore his impressive playing but moreover grew increasingly confident as a song writer ( this album is his 1st one as the sole composer) and proved his Muse wasn’t crippled neither, as the title track would soon climb up the Billboard charts (and was even chosen for an automobile advertisement campaign).

Although this is basically a Blues infected album, the heads repeated twice as to firmly establish the grooves and setting moods for muscle stretching and inter-galvanization between the players, Lee comps offer sufficient twists and turns which call for versatility and clear-sightedness: the minor modulation, mid-way through the long chorus of the title track, the contrasting Latin against the straight swing rhythm, both alternating all along “Totem Pole” establishing a thrilling, unresolved tension, the Hard-Bop of the waltzy “Gary’s Notebook” blowers and rhythm section bouncing off each others with tricky subtle rhythm tricks, the Funky triple-feel of “Boy, What a Night” and even the “feel-good” changes of the hard-swinging “Hocus-Pocus” (no relation to the Dutch Focus similar titled hit;-).

This was also the 1st of several fruitful collaborations between Lee and Joe Henderson, whose tenor may be held responsible for a huge slice of this album’s magic, and the aural bliss of the blend of both men sounds and the quality of their unisons and harmonies; it also firmly established a solid understanding between Lee and drummer Billy Higgins, openly appreciated and praising both by his discretion and inventiveness; pianist Barry Harris shares similar qualities and bass player Bob Cranshaw is extraordinarily anchoring and a constantly alert vital force.

By: Comusduke

A1 So What
A2 Freddie Freeloader
A3 Blue In Green
B1 All Blues
B2 Flamenco Sketches

First edition in the Blue Note Classic Vinyl Series.

Lee Morgan: Trumpet, Joe Henderson:  Tenor Sax, Barry Harris: Piano,

Bob Cranshaw: Bass, Billy Higgins: Drums