The Cooker by Lee Morgan was recorded shortly after the jazz man had contributed to John Coltrane’s classic Blue Train album in 1957. His abilities as a musician were displayed in dazzling fashion on the opening track A Night In Tunisia. When you think he was only 19 at the time and that it was his 5th album as a band leader it makes The Cooker even more amazing. Remastered in painstaking detail by Kevin Gray.
Vinyl LP £32.99 860042
Tone Poet Edition all-analog, mastered-from-the-original-master-tape 180g vinyl LP on Blue Note. Housed in a deluxe gatefold sleeve.
Criminally underrated in the grandiose tapestry that is Jazz, Lee Morgan worked with everybody who’s anybody and if he didn’t work with them, you haven’t heard of them. I’m talking about Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Harper and Billy Hart, who for the sake of this review - we’ll call ‘The Billys’. The list goes on and on and on and on, Morgan’s trumpet even played a key role in John Coltrane’s iconic ‘Blue Train’. Hard to believe that he achieved all of this by the age of 33 before he was killed while performing by his own wife.
Anyway, that’s a story for another day, let's get down to it. ‘The Cooker’ gets going with, in my opinion, the stand out track of the album ’Night In Tunisia’, a festival of Morgan’s trumpeting talents that seem to be showcased at double speed, jazz is all about showing off after all. The infectious second track on the album, the swing style ‘Heavy Dipper’ brings the tempo back to something more familiar to the comprehension of us talentless ones before heart rates soar again for ‘Just One of Those Things’. If you’re after a nice bebopping ballad - the ‘Lover Man’ is just the ticket, a well timed change of pace after a couple of absolute grass burners.
Morgan was prolific, ‘The Cooker’ being his fifth album as band leader - and he was only 19! It was his first album where he really took the baton of those who preceded him and for me, it’s a must have in any jazz fans collection and as an extra tit-bit for you, ‘The Billys’ (remember them from earlier) still perform to this day in a band called… The Cookers.
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