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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

on 6 August 2016
I have recently been listening to Sonny Clarke, Dexter Gordon and Miles Davis amongst others so I have been steered towards this disc. I find this disc very hard to take off my CD player and I have enjoyed it immensely. The Sidewinder is one of those tracks that everybody will have heard at some point so familiarity on playing draws you in straight away. Joe Henderson is on tenor sax, Barry Harris is on piano, Bob Cranshaw is on Bass and Billy Higgins is on drums. Recorded in 1963 at the Van Gelder Studio at Englewood Cliffs, NJ, this disc was remastered by Van Gelder in 1998. As you would expect with a Rudy Van Gelder recording, this has a very real life feel to it and is a joy to listen to, it's very tempting to turn the volume up and feel like the band is in the room with you. I thoroughly recommend this disc to anyone with an interest in Hard Bop with a Bluesy feel.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 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."
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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.
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on 31 October 2014
Lee Morgans Sidewinder album is a joy it is filled with really classic trumpet playing and kind of has a stereotypical sound of what non jazz listeners think of when they think about jazz ( if they do at all) lots of tootling trumpet with groovy drumming. There is even some bass soloing too which I always love especially on a double bass. Lee morgan was about 20 or something when this was recorded so even more impressive that he was so young he was considered a Young Upstart too this is a must own Jazz album
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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.
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on 16 December 2016
The title track is an absolute hoot, and the rest of the album doesn't disappoint. Mod jazz in excelsis.
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on 23 February 2018
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on 2 January 2015
love this cd good value
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on 13 June 2015
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on 25 August 2016
I absolutely love this CD. Have played it over and over again.
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