Alternate Takes Week #9: Album for the Week

By 1965, Lee Morgan had already released some of his most incredible work (The Sidewinder, Search for the New Land, Tom Cat), and ’65 was a particularly fruitful year for the prodigious trumpeter.  The Gigolo, Cornbread, and Infinity were all recorded this year (although Infinity would not be released until 1980).  But out of all of the albums released this particular year, it is The Rumproller  that captures my heart most.  Morgan is joined by tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, pianist Ronnie Matthews, bassist Victor Sproles, and Billy Higgins on drums.  The tunes are off the beaten path, and I love that about this record.  I also love the array of composers on this album.  From Andrew Hill’s very 60s pop-feel title track to Wayne Shorter’s gorgeous uptempo waltz “Edda”, to Morgan’s own “Desert Moonlight”, the album celebrates the music of Lee’s contemporaries and the songs are executed superbly.  Henderson’s solo intro from his brawny tenor on “Edda” is soul-gripping.  On this same song, you hear some of pianist Ronnie Matthews’ prettiest playing, as he counters Henderson’s heaviness with a butterfly-delicate, whimsical solo.  His solo on “The Lady” is equally enchanting.  The bass-drum hookup between Sproles and Higgins is so perfectly fluid and solid at the same time,with Sproles balancing “the bottom” and melodic lines to perfection, and Billy Higgins…do we really need to even discuss?  This album is ultra moody, and has a brilliant pop element to it.  This album is danceable, catchy, and “hep” without trying per se to appeal to that audience.  It is the perfect example of jazz assimilating all that is surrounding it (modernism, ahem) and expressing it with acute individualism.  One of the greatest post-bop outings in the world, if you ask me.

2 responses to “Alternate Takes Week #9: Album for the Week

    • Thank you, Erinn!!!! Your blog is super, and I will be following as well! It’s so nice to meet people of similar interests! I think jazz in dance is so very important and is an art that needs more exposure as one of America’s original art forms. Gregory Hines was one of my all-time favorites!

      Yours in Jazz!

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