Gentlemanly Jams – Lee Morgan’s “The Procrastinator”
Welcome to the first installment of Gentlemanly Jams. This is a new, ongoing series in which we’ll dive into the music we’re listening to at the shop. Our staff’s musical tastes are varied, so know that this won’t focus on just one genre of music – the only caveat is that everything we discuss will be safe for work, at least in terms of lyrical content. Today, we’ll start with Lee Morgan’s “The Procrastinator.”
Who Was Lee Morgan?
Lee Morgan was a jazz trumpeter from the hard bop era. He recorded an unbelievable amount of material in a short time. A fellow Philadelphian by birth, he started playing trumpet in his early teens. Throughout his career, he played alongside many big names in jazz – Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Coltrane just to name a few. Despite honing his chops with the likes of these giants, he never quite achieved “household name” status in the way that, say, Miles Davis did.
Throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s, Mr. Morgan recorded thirty-one albums. This is nothing short of prolific, and as you can imagine, digesting his entire body of work would take quite a long time.
Sadly, his wife murdered him in his early 30’s after an altercation outside a bar in New York City. Who knows what he could have gone on to do?!
If there’s one thing to know about Lee Morgan as a trumpeter, it’s how funky he is compared to others in the bebop idiom. The genre hadn’t yet come to full fruition by the time of his death, but he could have easily played in a funk context as well. His playing is clean as a whistle, but also busy, somewhat erratic, and syncopated.
This album (which features the legend Herbie Hancock) has plenty of elements of classic jazz in terms of feel and overall sound. There are blues influences alongside the virtuosity in his and his band’s playing. The eponymous track’s introduction is lush without being schmaltzy, and seems to draw influence from “Concierto de Aranjuez: Adagio” on Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain. Once the intro is over, though, the tempo picks up and you’ve suddenly got some aggressively virtuosic trumpeting on your hands.
“Dear Sir” is a relaxing, gentle ballad, whereas “Stop-Start” goes in the total opposite direction – hard, fast bop jazz. “Rio” draws on Latin rhythmic influences and is vaguely reminiscent of Sérgio Mendes’ “Mas Que Nada,” which is a song you know even if you don’t think you know it.
Why We Like It
Bebop jazz – complex, virtuosic, up-tempo, self-described “musician’s music” – is great for an office setting like ours. It’s also right at home at a dinner gathering. The absence of lyrics minimizes distraction, which is important when you’re measuring to the 1/8″. “The Procrastinator” as an album is complex enough to hold your interest, but not so complex as to be inaccessible, which is an issue with a lot of jazz of the era.
You get both beauty and brains with this album. In short – these jams are gentlemanly.
If you’re already a fan of jazz, you’ll love this album. If you’re just starting out, it’s accessible enough to start your journey with.
We would, of course, be delighted to discuss music at the shop (with appropriate distancing in place, of course). Give us a buzz at 215-310-0219 or email email@example.com to learn more about what we do and how we do it.