Lee Morgan: Delightfulee (1966) Liberty/Blue Note

LJC Special Selection: Albums I initially avoided due to presence of turkeys, but which also contain prime cuts: BST 84243 Lee Morgan’s Delightfulee. Apologies in advance to lovers of  the Fab Four, and cranberry sauce.

Selection: Nite Flite (Morgan)

.  .  .

Artists:

Lee Morgan Quintet: Lee Morgan, trumpet; Joe Henderson, tenor sax; McCoy Tyner, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Billy Higgins, drums; recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, May 27, 1966.

On Sunrise Sunset (Bock-Harnick) and Yesterday (Lenin and McCartney):  Lee Morgan, Ernie Royal, trumpet; Tom McIntosh, trombone; Jim Buffington, French horn; Don Butterfield, tuba; Phil Woods, alto sax, flute; Wayne Shorter, tenor sax; Danny Bank, baritone sax, bass clarinet, flute; McCoy Tyner, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums; Oliver Nelson, arranger, recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ., April 8, 1966

Hey, mister, who’s paying for these two trays of donuts?
Don’t look at me, says Rudy, fastidiously brushing white icing sugar off his black gloves.  Oliver? Are you there Oliver? Someone to see you…

Music

Perhaps I’m being harsh, but a cover of Lenin & McCartney songs tends to make me queasy. It’s not like anyone can add anything to such strong tunes, it becomes karaoke, Lee miming the words.. Then there is the addition of the lead song from Fiddler on the Roof  (which opened on Broadway two years earlier, in 1964). I’m surprised Lee didn’t throw in a couple of tunes from West Side Story and My Fair Lady to just finish it off. I had to ask: Lee, WTF is this material doing on a jazz album?

I assume Liberty put pressure on Lee to “broaden his audience”, perhaps the Boogaloo Track 1  formula had worn thin. (Not here it hadn’t!) The mystery is that the two sessions – April 8 and May 27 – fell inside the closing months of Blue Note before the sale to Liberty. The absence of a pre-printed NY label and jacket for 8423 suggests the track selection was not finalised until after the sale to Liberty, who called the shots and instructed Van Gelder to include the  pop-covers on the title.

There is also some great material on the album which deserves greater recognition, if not put off by the Broadway tunes and Beatles. It includes bright long spidery McCoy Tyner comp and solos, Henderson extends from hard-tone to squawk and honking, and finally into “strangulated harmonics™”, which he was perfecting at this time. Morgan has a particularly dense, rich tone, which somehow makes me think of Heinz condensed tomato soup, with  pepper and spice vibrato and a whisk of cream to finish.  Philly Joe stirs things along nicely.

In case you were wondering, why all these food metaphors, I lost over three kilo with the flu recently! I find them popping into my head for some reason, like the body trying to tell you something. Food Parcels, LJC ! Send Calories!

Also, you need to be warned. After a couple of spins of this album, you might catch yourself humming along to.. Sunrise… Sunset…Sunrise… It’s a damn catchy tune! I have an excellent Sonny Criss rendition of same, from the excellent  This Is Criss. 

In addition to the selection Nite Flite, there is a beautifully understated waltz The Delightful Deggie, dedicated to a relative of McCoy Tyner. Morgan’s penchant for dedicating songs to various ladies would eventually to get him into serious trouble, not unlike Miles and his cover-wives: you are just never going to get away with it. Lee? Just who is this “Carolyn” on your new album? Just a friend, sweetcakes, just a friend…

Because it is something of a revelation, I throw in the waltz: The Delightful Deggie. A waltz tempo is going to be a bit of a risk, but works very well here, and Lee’s solo is particularly fruity, though Henderson feels a little uncomfortable with the ¾ timing.

.   .   .

There is a three course meal in all this music, I swear.

.   .   .

Vinyl: BNST 84243 – 1st issue by Liberty, VAN GELDER stamp, stereo.

Side Two is a first re-cut -B-1.

Labels look Keystone (Intertype Vogue typesetting on artist and album title) , the centre pressing ring is characteristic of around a quarter of Liberty Blue Note pressings, 1 1/8″ pressing die ring, chief  suspect  Southern Plastics, Tennesee, or someone else, no one knows for sure.

Collector’s Corner

In addition to my “Southern Plastics?” edition, there are a couple of other Liberty editions, including a Bert-Co/West Coast remastered issue on which sellers omit mention of “Van Gelder” stamp (below right). Readers should be fairly adept now at spotting the Bert-Co SIDE 1.

I put off adding this record to my collection for a good number of years, due to the mere sight of a Lenin & McCartney song credit. Despite growing up in the midst of Beatlemania in ’60s Swinging London, we were saturated with The Fab Four and the relentless diet of pop magazines features (“which Beatle do you think is the cutest?“) Holy Walking Haircuts, none of them!

Yesterday originates on the album Help! released in the U K in August 1965, less than a year earlier, so it had not yet reached its iconic status in The Beatles songbook: it was a fairly recent pop hit at the time Morgan recorded it. Fiddler on the Roof likewise was a relatively young production at the time, which went on to enjoy over 3,000 performances over the following ten years. So the presence of these two tracks on a Blue Note album seems a major departure in Liberty thinking, an odd commercial judgement, Blue Note artists covering current pop tunes.

Oliver Nelson had been  brought in to score and arrange a dozen musicians, Wayne Shorter and Phil Woods in the back row chatting over old times whilst blowing the odd harmony, a veritable New York Musician’s Stimulus Package.

So it came about that the lust for new material overcame my distaste for a couple of tracks, and to dive instead into the other material. Some great Henderson playing, and the pianist I forgot to mention as one of the best ever pianists, which will not be forgiven in a hurry, McCoy Tyner. The quintet benefits from the backbone of Billy Higgins, and there is more than enough excitement to pass on a few tracks.

However, there is no escape from Jazz on Broadway, they were all on board…

♪♫♪ Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise… ♪♫♪  Damn it!!

 

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15 thoughts on “Lee Morgan: Delightfulee (1966) Liberty/Blue Note

  1. Sure, when “Yesterday” starts Kitsch walks right in. But then the part where Lee breaks away form the melody and takes off, somehow I always found that quite beautiful. And then Wayne follows with another great bit. Just wish there had been a small group version instead of the bigger ensemble which tends to overpower what the two have been doing.
    So, not quite satisfying as a whole. I give you that.

  2. This album is both awesome and infuriating. 2/3 of it is one of the very very best Blue Note releases ever. Just superb in every way. Great sound too. And 1/3 of it is utter nonsense. Just 2 more quintet tracks and it would be an all-time classic, on par with The Sidewinder and Cornbread.

    • I assumed it was cobbled from two aborted sessions, no? The quintet cuts are indeed quite solid.

      • Although they recorded enough songs in April 66′ for a big band lp release a month later the small group ensemble recorded 2 of the same songs and 2 others. The unreleased big band cuts weren’t rejected (which is why they appeared on the cd) unlike some of the other mixed session Blue Notes. My personal theory based on the recording timeline was that Alfred Lion didn’t think a big band lp wouldn’t generate enough sales so they recorded 4 small group cuts as a marketing ploy. Not sure if that makes sense or not.

  3. Yes that Cannonball LP is a cracker. Played it a lot at the Jewish Deli we ran here in Bristol as it killed two birds with one stone.

    I particularly enjoyed the way Cannon Ball’s interpretation of Fiddler on the Roof inspired a version by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare that I’d been listening to for 25 years or more without knowing its origins.

    From a Ukrainian shtetl to Kingston Jamaica with a prolonged stop over in NYC. Music the way I like it.

  4. Thank you for this post about Delightfulee I knew of the album, but only bought it on CD during the late 80s, or early 90s (?). I’m glad I bought the CD, because the extra tracks which I liked very much, really round out the session.

    I don’t recall them now, since, as I’ve mentioned many times here, I needed to sell my collection sometime late in 2013, when the wolf came knocking at my door seeking payments… Best regards/ Cheers, Ed Edward Fenning ed361@yahoo.com

    • Ed – I bought the CD to compare the two recordings of Zambia, one with Wayne Shorter and the other with Joe Henderson. Since one was a small group and the other big band a comparison was inconsequential, at least for my ears (this was around 95′). But it was interesting to hear how Lee chose to arrange the same composition with the two different sized groups.

  5. Interesting to see that Vladimir Lenin had a hand in writing “Yesterday”, LJC. All his troubles now seem far away….

  6. Could this LP be one of the first attempts by an artist/label to create “the new standard”? These days it seems commonplace for jazz musicians to perform renditions of popular rock tunes. And with mixed results. Didn’t Herbie release an album a few years back actually called “The New Standard”? But…speaking of Lennon/McCartney and McCoy Tyner…Mr. Tyner did a cover of “She’s Leaving Home”, and in my opinion, it works really well. Amazingly well. Not sure if it was released on any LP, so google it.

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