Saturday 11 November 2023

Search For The New Land - Lee Morgan

Lee Morgan - Search For A New Land (1964/66)
A surprising amount of Lee Morgan albums from the 60s were shelved. This seems absolutely absurd to me particularly when they feature the big jazz stars of the day Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Hank Mobley, McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton and Art Blakey amongst others. Even more absurd was that there were beautifully recorded Wayne Shorter compositions just languishing in the Blue Note vaults. Miles Davis couldn't get enough Wayne Shorter tunes at the time. Shorter tracks like E.S.P. and Nefertiti were being used as titles for Miles Davis records for God's sake. 

Anyway unlike other Lee Morgan albums Tom Cat and Infinity, they didn't wait until the 80s to release this recording. 1964's Search For A New Land only gathered dust on the shelves until 1966. Despite being recorded two months after the smash crossover hit LP The Sidewinder, Blue Note immediately shelved this record and requested Morgan go back into the studio to create another boogaloo jam in an attempt to capture the mass market again. 

The title track written by Lee Morgan is a spectacular piece of kaleidoscopic spatial jazz featuring Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and unusually for Morgan guitarist, Grant Green, along with the ace rhythm section of Reggie Workman and Billy Higgins doing divine cymbal work. It's all about wide open spaces and ebbs and flows and rare tones and unfamiliar vibrations and new horizons and tense tranquility and mysterious euphoria. 

Not so much the jazzy jazz as the post-bop transforming into spiritual jazz and free-bop. Make no mistake this is peak visionary jazz.

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