Lee Morgan – The Complete Live at the Lighthouse (from 1970)
(Blue note. 8 CDs or 12 LPS. Album review by Olie Brice)
by Lee Morgan Living at the Lighthouse was already a classic album, in its original double LP format, and then the longest 3-CD box set released in the 1990s. This 8-CD box of all the music the band played over 12 sets is an absolute joy, and in a year where none of us have heard enough live jazz, the chance to revel in this great band spanning a weekend shouldn’t be missed.
Morgan had assembled a large group for his July 1970 residency at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California. Bennie Maupin plays tenor sax, bass clarinet and flute wonderfully and contributes to several compositions. He shares Morgan’s mastery of the blues and jazz tradition, but you can also hear him moving forward, his playing showing influence from Wayne Shorter and free jazz – in fact, he’ll be joining the new band. of Herbie Hancock, Mwandishi, immediately after this engagement. Harold Maber was an early New York pianist, working with artists like Sonny Rollins and Betty Carter. Bass player jymie merritt was a true innovator – the first note bass player to use an electric double bass, and rhythmically revolutionary, with an approach to phrase lengths that influenced Dave Holland, among others. mickey rocker was a wonderful drummer, deeply swinging and perfectly suited to the band. Jack DeJohnette, in town with Miles Davis, plays a tune, a searing version of “Speedball.”
This band and Morgan’s latest (with Billy Harper and Freddie Waits replacing Maupin and Roker, can we get a live box of them please?) Sidewinder and play the best music of his career. He was branching out creatively and politically, getting involved in fundraising for the Black Panther Defense Fund, and playing a live soundtrack for a documentary about Angela Davis. His tragic death at the age of 33 ended a musical career that was far from finished. I recommend the harrowing but brilliant documentary “I Called Him Morgan” for the context of his final months and death.
The box has been assembled with great care and attention. The remastered sound is superb and the liner notes are detailed and informative, including interviews with the surviving musicians. Highly recommended.