The history of music is littered with great artists who carry the moniker ‘died way too young’. Too often that death is self-inflicted and due to … well, mostly drugs. But there are plenty who succumbed to illness, or lost to tragedy. Lee Morgan is such an artist.
I never thought of Lee Morgan as being that young, as he had a career that started strong in the late 1950s and continued until his death at 33 in 1972. He was 18 when he broke out as an already-established vituoso side-man and released his first solo recordings. He produced a number of solid recordings throughout the late 50s through the mid-60s, and managed to kick a drug habit and was re-establishing his musical identity with some fascinating music in the modal and free genres of jazz before he was tragically shot to death in a club while heading to the stage by his common-law wife.
His masterpiece recording is The Sidewinder from 1963, a great work in the ‘hard bop’ subgenre. Here is the title track: