Personnel: Lee Morgan (trumpet); Lee Morgan; Victor Sproles (trumpet); Sonny Clark (piano); Bob Cranshaw (bass instrument); Art Taylor (drums); Hank Mobley (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Gigi Gryce (alto saxophone); Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Benny Golson (tenor saxophone); Harold Mabern, Herbie Hancock, Ronnie Mathews, Barry Harris , Wynton Kelly (piano); Billy Higgins , Charlie Persip (drums).
Recording information: Van Gelder Studio, Englewoodm Cluffs, NJ (03/24/1957-09/18/1965).
A trumpeter with a bright tone and a vigorous attack in the manner of Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan was one of the most technically dexterous hornmen of the post bop era. This six-track Blue Note compilation, entitled simply THE VERY BEST, offers a satisfying sampler of the artist's skills. Morgan is most often associated with his 1963 boogaloo hit "The Sidewinder," and that ten-plus minute funky workout is here, kicking off the set. Another lengthy jam in the boogaloo mold, "The Rumproller," is also included.
As great as his boogaloo tracks are, Morgan was more diverse, ambitious, and sophisticated as a musician than those bluesy vamps might indicate. The plaintive "I Remember Clifford," for example, arranged for sextet, and the gorgeous ballad "Since I Fell for You," show Morgan's clear, achingly lyrical approach to more nuanced material. "Speedball" is bright, uptempo hard bop, with blazing solos from all involved, while "Ceora" builds around an impressionistic samba. Participation from saxophonists Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, and drummer Billy Higgins, among others, make this set something of an all-star scrapbook of Blue Note in the '60s.
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