2006 European CD reissue. Recorded when Lee Morgan was just 19, ‘The Cooker’ sees the young Blue Note trumpet star transcend his influences to find his own voice.
Lee Morgan hadn’t even celebrated his 20th birthday when he ventured into Rudy Van Gelder’s recording studio at Hackensack, New Jersey, on 29 September 1957, to record The Cooker. Originally from Philadelphia, Morgan (1938-1972) was a wunderkind trumpeter who idolised Clifford Brown (the groundbreaking hard bop horn blower who had perished in a car accident in 1956) and served his musical apprenticeship playing in the horn section of a short-lived big band led by another notable trumpeter – a puff-cheeked wind machine who went by the name of Dizzy Gillespie. That was in 1956, when Morgan was just 18.
Later the same year, he was offered a recording contract by New York’s Blue Note Records, then the leading jazz indie label, and recorded his inaugural LP for them, Lee Morgan Indeed!. There followed a spate of intense recording activity that saw the young trumpet prodigy record five more LPs within a period of ten and a half months. But as well as leading his own projects, news of Morgan’s prodigious, preternatural talent spread fast and he found himself recording as the trumpet foil to tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, who was also signed to Blue Note. And, perhaps more significantly, just four days before he went to record what became The Cooker, Morgan was in Van Gelder Studio playing alongside rising tenor star and fellow Philadelphian John Coltrane, featuring on what is universally acknowledged as the saxophonist’s first truly great album, Blue Train.
After the intense discipline and concentration required for the Coltrane session, Morgan desired to embark on a more relaxed kind of vibe in the studio. Dispensing with the notion of high-art concepts and carefully thought-out arrangements, he opted for a good old-fashioned blowing session, where the participating musicians could demonstrate their flair and talent in a spontaneous, informal manner.
Released in March 1958, The Cooker was different from Morgan’s previous Blue Note outings (Lee Morgan Sextet, Lee Morgan Vol.3 and City Lights) in that he used a smaller group. It was, in fact, a quintet, featuring the potent engine room of Miles Davis’ celebrated five-piece band in the shape of bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones. On piano was another young musician from The City Of Brotherly Love. His name was Bobby Timmons, and he would go on to become an important hard bop composer (he wrote the classic songs ‘Moanin’’ and ‘Dat Dere’). Timmons, like Morgan, would eventually join Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Morgan’s studio band was completed by the addition of baritone sax specialist Pepper Adams, whose resonant sound added a different, darker, dimension to the music, especially when blending with Morgan’s horn.
|Brand||Blue Note Records|
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