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"
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.
"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.
"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.
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.
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. Great Stuff