Trane, Lee & Helen

Lee and Helen Morgan

It seems that nowadays every three months or so a jazz movie is released. What’s happening? Must be something in the Kentucky Bourbon. First Whiplash, then Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead, Robert Budreau’s Chet Baker movie Born To Be Blue, and documentaries on both John Coltrane and Lee Morgan. For decades we had to make do with Bertrand Tavernier’s ‘Round Midnight (starring Dexter Gordon, who’s largely responsible for making it the best jazz movie ever) and Clint Eastwood’s Bird, now jazz pictures roll off the assembly line like chocolate letters during Santa Claus season.

Lots of talking heads crowd the Coltrane biopic, John Scheinfeld’s Chasing Trane, including the former saxophone colossus of the White House, Bill “Slightly Drawling Behind The Beat” Clinton:

Chasing Trane

A lot of unreleased studio photography and footage seems to appear in Kasper Collin’s I Called Him Morgan, tickling the senses of hard bop aficionados around the globe:

I Called Him Morgan

To this day, the story of how Lee Morgan took a slug at Slugs’ from his common-law wife Helen in 1972 has remained a dramatic, horrible and hyper-real slice of classic jazz history. Let’s go back to a revealing, detailed account from drummer Billy Hart in his interview with Ethan Iverson of 2006. (The interview itself is one of many truly fascinating, long Iverson interviews on his Do The Math blog) Scroll to about three/fourths of the page:

Billy Hart about the death of Lee Morgan

Below are listed three albums from the Flophouse vault: Coltrane and Morgan’s sole cooperation on wax, Blue Train (Blue Note 1577, 1957); Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder (Blue Note/United Artists 84157, 1972-75, France); Coltrane Time (Solid State 7013, 1970; previously issued on United Artists in 1963 and as Cecil Taylor’s Hard Driving Jazz (United Artists, 1959)

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