The Sidewinder

Lee Morgan

Blue Note, 1964

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Morgan

REVIEW BY: Peter Vissers

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/02/2009

Trumpet virtuoso Lee Morgan didn’t live a long life. His girlfriend shot him at the young age of 33. In his short life, Lee Morgan did do a lot of recording, both leading and as a sideman. The Sidewinder was perhaps his biggest commercial success. The title track was such a chart-buster that it got featured in Chrysler car commercials. Nowadays that wouldn’t be very special, but a jazz song entering the Billboard Top 100 and being used in commercials in 1964 was quite an achievement.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

It isn’t hard to tell why “The Sidewinder” was such a hit. The track is catchy like a virus.  Morgan draws a lot of the attention to himself (whether on purpose or not), but the interplay between the musicians is absolutely brilliant. Drummer Billy Higgins and pianist Barry Harris give the track a slight Latin feel. Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson plays remarkably well on “The Sidewinder,” but is eventually overshadowed when Morgan’s amazing solo kicks in. Pianist Barry Harris has a more important role in album’s second track, but also has a noteworthy solo on the aforementioned title cut. “The Sidewinder” is an amazing tune which, quite understandably, became a jazz standard.

The second track, “Totem Pole,” features some of the best solos I’ve ever heard on a jazz record. Listen to Henderson’s soloing on this song and you know what I’m talking about. On “Gary’s Notebook,” the interplay between Morgan and Henderson is again astonishing. Though “Gary’s Notebook” is a bit more sophisticated than “The Sidewinder,” it’s just as catchy!

These three tracks make The Sidewinder one of my favorite jazz records. If you think you don’t like jazz, please give this disc a try! It might just be the cure. If you like jazz but have never heard The Sidewinder, buy it right now because you’re really missing something.

Rating: A

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© 2009 Peter Vissers and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Blue Note, and is used for informational purposes only.