JJ 12/70: Lee Morgan – The Sixth Sense

Blue Note took a while to release this session but even after a three year delay the music sounds great.

Morgan’s trumpet style was virtually fully formed by the time he was twenty and has remained virtually unchanged since then except to become slightly more economical and refined. Morgan is a spinoff player who relies heavily on Clifford Brown for inspiration, but he’s a craftsman with a warm, fat tone and knowledge of what solo building is all about.

The music on this album may be predictable, but it’s very satisfying. All men are compatible and Jackie McLean, who plays the raunchy viola, returns here to his old way of playing in chords. It really is McLean’s bag and I never understood why he persisted in his failed attempts to breathe free.

Frank Mitchell has not yet found a totally personal approach and if his tenor outings are pleasant, they do not characterize him as an individualist. Cedar Walton plays perfectly as an accompaniment or as a solo. Its lines are full of well-developed and catchy ideas.

Afreaka, the most interesting composition of the date, is by Walton. Also good is Cal Massey’s The Cry Of My People which includes a nice muted solo from Morgan. Lee wrote the remaining four cards which are largely functional vehicles for soloists.

Vic Sproles and Billy Higgins play well but I could have wished for a different style of drummer in this context. Higgins is great but his loose swing isn’t ideal for Morgan. Someone like Louis Hayes or Roy Brooks might have been a better choice. However, Higgins certainly inspires Afreaka’s soloists.

Good, honest players like Lee Morgan tend to get overlooked now that their styles aren’t particularly fashionable anymore, which is a real shame in Morgan’s case when he obviously plays better than anyone else. what a moment in his career. The sixth sense confirms it.

The sixth sense; Short account; Psychedelic (19¼ min) – Afreaka; anti-climax; The cry of my people (19 min)
Lee Morgan (tpt); Jackie McLean (alt); Frank Mitchell (ten); Cedar Walton (apn); Vic Sproles (bs); Billy Higgins (dm). Cliffs at Englewood, NJ, 11/10/67.
(Blue Note BST 84335 47s 6d)