Selection: Mr Johnson (Mabern)
Lee Morgan (trumpet), Mickey Roker (drums), Harold Mabern (piano), George Coleman (tenor saxophone), Julian Priester (trombone), Walter Booker (bass) recorded September 12 & October 10, 1969.
The 1969 Sextet are all hot players, a triple brass line-up with solid George Coleman in the horn seat.
A late recording for the Blue Note label in 1969, with Liberty Records struggling under the yoke of diversified financial conglomerate Transamerica, looking nervously over their shoulder at Transamerica’s other label, United Artists.
Lee Morgan here, over ten years into his meteoric Blue Note career, six years after his monster hit The Sidewinder, and three years before his final recording session in 1972.
Sessions as leader were few and far between at this time, and in these final few years, Morgan recorded on a slew of soul-jazz organ titles, including Larry Young (Mothership), (Dr) Lonnie Smith (Turning Point), Reuben Wilson (Love Bug) and Charles Earland (Intensity).
He is often described as “experimenting with soul jazz“. How so, experimenting? Not being a huge fan of soul-jazz organ, I don’t have any of these titles. Any thoughts about Morgan’s playing here and on these titles in general more than welcome.
Vinyl: GXF 3024 King Records Japan
First released in 1978, Japan, “Unissued Masters Series”…and parallel release in the UA Jazz Classics Two-fer series.
The King cover design is a doppleganger of an earlier Lee Morgan Sextet title, BN1541, also known as “Lee Morgan Volume 2: Sextet“, of a quite different calibre line up (and price tag).
The only justification of copying something is if you think you can improve on it. Nice try, but lacking the reflective poise of Francis Wolff’s original portrait. The problem is the direction of gaze isn’t quite convincing. And Wolff has mastery of the highlights, the latter has him lost in shadows.
Many of the titles in the Unissued Masters Series, issued by King in Japan at this time, were also issued at the same time in the US in the United Artists LT series, or in this case, the Jazz Classics two-fer series, selling at around a quarter of the price. It pays to do your homework.
One source of confusion results from the Jazz Classics two-fer being titled “The Procrastinator”, but paired with this recording as the second LP, which has no title other than “Lee Morgan Sextet”, which is also the title of BN 1541, which is unhelpfully called just “Lee Morgan” on the cover.
The Japanese edition is one of the King Records “Unissued Masters Series“. It was previously unissued, but then also issued by United Artists in the US at the same time as the King issue. Sort of “Not Previously Re-issued Masters Series”… Anyway, it has a nicer cover, even if it is the same picture. But not that of “The Procrastinator”…
You are following all of this, aren’t you?
In passing, I thought to check the latest peak auction value for original Lee Morgan other Sextet Blue Note: BN1541 falls some way behind his other titles, just outside the top ten at $2600, but look where some of his other titles lead, with “Indeed” in the same league as Mobley 1568. Any sellers out there, note, the new word to add value to auctions is “SUPERB”
Personally I shall stick with my Japanese copies. Neither Rare! nor Superb!, but a word which doesn’t exactly set pulses racing: Affordable!,
The new Lee Morgan film on release: (UK Premier July 28, 2017)