36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2003
"The Sidewinder"... 10 minutes 24 seconds of pure "cool" and a stunningly effective example of how to push jazz into mainstream popular music without compromising on technique or virtuosity. Recorded in 1963 - way before "jazz/funk" was invented - Lee Morgan lays down its perfect template by creating an insidious riff that captures & holds the listener's attention while inviting improvisation from a superbly tight band that includes Joe Henderson on sax and the wonderful Bob Cranshaw on bass. So clever that their breaks become an integral part of the driving back-beat that results in that rarest of things: a jazz track that you can actually dance to. Definitive, timeless and, above all, fun.
And the rest?... high quality early 60's jazz: as good as anything around at the time but overwhelmed by the sheer power of the album's opening track.
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2005
This album is an absolute must for any Jazz enthusiast, showcasing Lee Morgan at his powerful best. Undoubtedly one of the finest trumpeters in the history of Jazz, Morgan seems barely to break a sweat during the title track, and yet exploits the groove with precision and energy. The musical interplay between Morgan and Joe Henderson on Tenor Sax is superb and seldom matched in any session. Bob Cranshaws' irresistable basslines, and Billy Higgins' powerful backbeat create a momentum that will have your feet tapping helplessly from the first few bars.
After the sublime cool of "The Sidewinder", things get better and better, with every track arguably a masterpiece of the genre. Totem Pole is a superbly constructed piece, proving that Morgan is also a Jazz composer of a high order. "Gary's Notebook" and "Boy, What a Night!" are both upbeat numbers, with more challenging lines, and feature superb solos from Morgan and Henderson. Running through them all is the superb rhythm section, which never fails to groove, and at times takes centre stage - listen to Barry Harris' great piano work on "Totem Pole", and Billy Higgins' relentless beat on "Hocus Pocus".
If you are a Jazz fan and you do not own this album buy it now! If you are not a Jazz fan you will have heard the title track used as mood music on TV or radio - please buy it and listen without any distractions - it will reward your full attention! Be warned though - this album should be labelled with a health warning - "Extremely addictive - may cause excessive listening to Jazz"
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
"The Sidewinder," is probably Jazz's,"Smells like Teen Spirit." It's undeniably brilliant but it's been so over-exposed, covered and plagiarised down the years that it's genius is no longer instantly apparent. The extended blues track became something of an anchorism for Blue Note, it's a shame because there is some truly wonderful playing on this track, Morgans's ranging trumpet and another set defining performance by Joe Henderson on sax. I prefer to analyse the title track in conjunction with the other brilliant peices of music on this record. You have the hypnotic "Totem Pole," and it's alternate version which somehow manages to be even better. It merges beautifully into the funky,"Gary's Notebook." Higgin's drumwork constantly helps Morgan and Henderson cut the groove. Another favourite of mine is,"Hocus-Pokus," where we see some of Morgan's trumpet trickery. He blew a trumpet like nobody else in my opinion, it's those little flickering sounds he makes before delving into the helter-skelter solos that I love. One of the most interesting things about this album is the drumming. Billy Higgins clearly knew Morgan like the back of his hand and it's his tight sequences that really give the tracks their steady drive and the controlling beat.
"The Sidewinder," isn`t liked by some because of it's commercial success and it did set a fad at Blue Note that lasted far too long. In my opinion Morgan made several other records just as strong as this but if you don't have this record in your collection there's no better way of possibly spending your money than getting your hands on it. Deserves it's legendary status.
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2002
No jazz collection should be without this masterpiece of upbeat cool. Not just great horn blowing from Mr. Morgan, but some of the hottest solo pieces from the rest of the guys too -sax, piano and some unbelievable bass. Definitely in the same groove as Dexter Gordon's "Go" and Cannonball Adderley's "Somethin' Else". The only time I ever called a radio station to get the name of a tune. If you don't start tappin' to the title track, then check your pulse 'coz you're probably dead.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2009
Lee Morgan was one of Blue Note's defining trumpet players - recording many albums for them as both leader and sideman from 1956 to his untimely death in 1972 - and this is rightly his most famous album. Melodic and meandering, sinuous and groovy this is an album you won't forget in a hurry and which deserves a place in even the most general of Jazz collections. Shot dead at 33, Morgan packed a great deal into his brief career and was among the greatest trumpet players of his age. Sidewinder is an eternal testament to his talent and the eponymous title track has such a natural flow to it, you'll swear you've heard it before, even if you haven't.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This is an all time classic sixties Blue Note album that has even found fame in club dancefloor remixes.Leee Morgan was the most technically gifted trumpet player to emerge from the fifties.He cut his chops on hard bop records with Art Blakey but found his niche with what some call "boogaloo".But there is no doubt that this is where the whole soul/jazz movement started when morgan,Herbie Hancock,Donald Byrd and others started to "Funk Up" there music with irregular beats and make them the basis of the whole piece with the horn players soloing over those steady grooves making the music seem instantly "catchy" and familiar.
For the above reason alone this album deserves a place in any jazz fans collection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Like the great Sam Cooke, trumpet maestro Lee Morgan had the rare and unenviable distinction of being shot dead by a woman - in Morgan's case by his common-law wife Helen More, as he was preparing to start his set at Slugs Jazz Club in NYC in February 1972. So ended the short life of one of Jazz's most creative talents at the tragically young age of 33.
The Sidewinder is of course a species of rattlesnake. This December 1963 recording is generally regarded as Morgan's most accessible work, and something of a minor (some might say major) jazz classic essential to any serious collection. With Joe Henderson - who worked as Morgan's sideman for many years - on sax and the capable Barry Harris on piano, backed by Bob Cranshaw on bass and Billy Higgins on drums, the quintet belts out some fine up-tempo numbers most of which have a 4/4 beat, so often appeal to people who don't normally like or listen to jazz but prefer more rhythmic danceable sounds. The interplay between Morgan and Henderson in particular is really first-rate and way beyond anything found in boogaloo or R&R music of the period: this makes `The Sidewinder' a kind of crossover jazz album with wide appeal.
Five long-ish tracks (two of more than 10 minutes' each) are complemented on the modern remix by an alternative take of `Totem Pole', the album's second great composition after the title track. All the music was composed by the talented and prolific 25-year old Morgan, and the title track achieved great popular success when released as a single.
Unlike Miles' minimalist, super-cool and clean sound or Trane's adventurous cerebral stream-of-consciousness playing, Morgan's trademark sound is upbeat, happy and enjoyable, and this is definitely a repeat-play album which gets better each time you hear it.
on 26 September 2014
This was the first Blue Note LP I bought when I was a teenager and was ordered from Orpheus Records in Southsea after initially hearing the record on Humphey Lyttelton's "Best of jazz." I can still remember walking up the hill to catch the bus for college one morning after playing the record continually the night beforehand and thinking how great the record was and that Lee Morgan must have been one of the greatest trumpet players of all time. Every track seemed to crackle with excitement and offer the possibility of exploration in to further styles of jazz that remained unfamiliar at the time. It seemed to be a staggeringly brilliant and ebullient piece of music.
What is strange is that I never replaced by LP with a CD and quickly by-passed Blue Note for more contemporary styles before going through a period of Blue Note obsession in the early 2000's. Even then, I never returned to this disc but I decided to pick another copy up as it went for sale for about £3 on line. For some reason I always felt that returning to this record might be a bit of a disappointment but it is quite intriguing to find that whilst my perception has changed totally, it is a far more nuanced record than I recollected. In effect, this is a quintet of 5 musicians who have really different philosophies but combine to make something really quite special. Morgan seems more influenced by Gillespie than I recollected, his lines being full of dynamics and rhythmic phrasing as opposed to the more "round the block" kind of be-bop of Clifford Brown. I hadn't expected that. I now see Joe Henderson as a more adventurous player but here is seems to thrive over the funky drive of the rhythm section and the combination with Morgan reminds me of the other "perfect trumpet and tenor blend" of Tina Brooks and Freddie Hubbard. In fact a tune like "Totem Pole" sounds like it has migrated from Brooks' "True Blue."
I would also have to say that Barry Harris plays this session without putting a foot wrong. His gospel inspired solo on the title track teasingly plays over the groove in a fashion that is fascinating. he is not what I would call a sophisticated player yet here he is a masterful conjuror taking simple phrases and working upon them until the effect become mesmerising. On paper Harris seems too much of a "soul" player to find it with a hip front line of Morgan and Henderson but his presence acts as the perfect contrast . Bob Cranshaw is a model of strength on bass and crucial to why this record sounds so good. However, the very best thing about this record is Billy Higgin's sensational drumming which rattles it's way throughout the recording in a loose-limbered fashion which is the icing on the cake. There is a moment in the last chorus by Morgan on "Sidewinder" where the trumpet plays a couple of phrases based on two notes where Higgin's has some kind of telepathic hold on the former. You almost want to jump out of your seat and punch the air this is so exciting! That said, the free-wheeling joie de vivre of "Boy, What a night" is the album's highlight and such a fantastically snaky and confident theme that it is difficult to understand that this isn't more widely known.
Stereotypically, this album is seen as the disc which prompted Blue Note to pursue a more commercial policy as it chased the potential to repeat the hit that was the title track. This is demonstrably too simple. The title track was apparently initially intended as a filler and the other tracks could all have served as opening tracks on any other Morgan disc - especially the aforementioned "Boy, what a night." As a 17 year old, this record struck as an incredibly infectious and exciting piece of jazz and I believed that it typified what a Blue Note record should sound like . Thirty years later and the record now seems like the coming together of five musicians from disparate styles of jazz to produce a disc that is perfectly realised. It isn't at all typical and perhaps as "odd" in it's way as other "Hard Bop classics" such as "Shades of Redd, " or "True Blue" - both of which include a large degree of writing and not the head + blowing sessions that form a large body of the label output in this idiom. The whole effect is like a recipe that uses an unusual mix of ingredients to produce the perfect fruitcake. I think that this record deserves it's reputation - for all the unorthodoxy, this is perfect the apogee of "Hard Bop."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2010
In the 60s, many jazz players rightly pushed boundaries with avant-gardish music but luckily for me there was still some straight modern bop around and this '64 release is probably my favourite. The title track's great of course but so's the rest and at nearly eight minutes long, I never want Boy What a Night to end. Groovy, soulful and clever, everyone plays wonderfully but I'd like to mention Billy Higgins' drumming - if there's such a thing as an offbeat straightforward backbeat, he plays it on these fantastic tracks.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2012
All five compositions on the original album are written by the trumpeter Lee Morgan and the title track became a jazz hit. An alternate track of TOTEM POLE has been added to bring the total playing of the CD up to 51 minutes. I agree with the full review as given in the Richard Cook & Brian Morgan's Penguin Guide to JAZZ RECORDINGS that this should be a CORE SELECTION for any good jazz collection. I purchased this second hand through the good offices of Amazon and I don't regret it.