back stage — music notes
Charisma! The music of Lee Morgan
Opening night of ”Charisma! The music of Lee Morgan,” was a great night of music and it’s only going to get better.
There was a great feeling in the room before the band even took the stage. As I looked around the room, I saw lots of Yoshi’s regulars, several groups of students, and a few musicians as well.
This was a show I had been looking forward to for a long time, the line up was a dream band of players who had worked with Morgan, and others who would be perfect to interpret his music. From the opening notes of Billy Harper’s “Capra Black” it was obvious that we were in for something special.
Billy has been one of my favorite players, ever since I first saw him play at Koncepts back in 1990. Straight off, he came out on fire. His rich tone and never ending well of ideas got things off to a great start. David Weiss followed with a trumpet solo that showed Lee Morgan’s influence. Geri Allen’s piano solo topped the tune off, and by then it was obvious that things were starting to happen on stage.
The next song was Bennie Maupin’s “Neophilia.” Bennie recorded this with Lee, and showed that his bass clarinet playing is still stellar. Eddie Henderson came to bat next with a beautiful flugelhorn solo, stretching the harmonies and reminding us of what a great player he is. Geri Allen took the third solo again, and again blew all of us away with her wealth of ideas, incredible harmonic sense, and sheer burning playing. All the while, Dwayne Burno was holding it down on the bass, with Billy Hart supplying the poly-rhythms from the drum set.
The rest of the set was rounded out the “Nomo, “ “Ceora,” and one more that I can’t remember the name of…. But oh what a night!! Every one got warmed up as the night went on, and the playing was on a really high level. In each song, the soloists were brilliant. Harper blowing long and hard, Henderson reaching creative heights, Weiss and Maupin each getting shouts from the crowd, and Geri Allen with her great chops and incredible attack was the star of the evening.
In the last song Harper and Maupin squared off and traded fours, followed by David Weiss and Billy Hart trading eights, fours, and finally an incredible solo by Hart, who had been sounding great all night.
The set ended with a standing ovation, and a room full of ecstatic jazz fans. This is what the music is all about, and I was so happy to get to hear it.