Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Sidewinder

I picked up Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder, with its unforgettable title cut, and listened to it for the first time in years. It's as brilliant as I remember it, back when I used to play it on KZSU all the time in my student-DJ days back at Stanford in the 80s.

I had forgotten that Joe Henderson is the tenor player, wonderfully contrasting with Morgan's trumpet, and that Billy Higgins is the drummer. But the latter does not surprise me: since almost everything Higgins ever played on danced lightly even in ballads and in hard-bop, it's no wonder that this was long Blue Note's biggest hit. Somebody should write a complete Wikipedia page about him!

Addendum: I also picked up Joe Henderson's Page One, another recording I have not heard for ages. Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa," the opening track, is just as exquisite as "The Sidewinder." And McCoy Tyner is brilliant on piano.

I don't think I played "Blue Bossa" as often as "The Sidewinder" back in my radio days, but I also understand why "Blue Bossa" really deserves to be called a "jazz standard," in a way that "The Sidewinder" does not. "Blue Bossa" is just a perfect tune; in my few attempts to actually play jazz (and not just fake it), it was one of the tunes I learned a lot from: relatively simple, but with huge amounts of space in it for soloists and accompanists to move around in.


Colin Will said...

Oh yes. I've got a version of Lee's Sidewinder from the early 1960s - fine music. I'm trying to see if I've got Blue Bossa somewhere - I'm sure I have, but not the Lee Morgan version. I found this version of Blues March with Lee, Art Blakey and Wayne Shorter recorded in 1959.

Shorter very much influenced by Coltrane here.

Andrew Shields said...

I don't know if there is a Lee Morgan version of "Blue Bossa"; I have it on Joe Henderson's album "Page One."

Andrew Shields said...

Colin, thanks for the Blakey link. Another CD I just picked up is an Art Blakey 1958 recording with "Blues March", with Morgan and the composer, Benny Golson.