Monday, October 27, 2014

Roberto Magris Septet: Morgan Rewind Vol 2 - DownBeat

Roberto Magris Septet
Morgan Rewind: A Tribute to Lee Morgan, Vol 2

Cut down at the age of 33, hard-bop trumpeter Lee Morgan made a sizable impact as a leader and Jazz Messenger, leaving a body of work that was artistically engaging and commercially viable.

Nonetheless, aside from a few big hits, Morgan's compositions have not entered into the standard language like many of his contemporaries' did. Italian pianist Roberto Magris is doing his part with his second volume of Morgan tunes but considering this album's length, the two-disc set could've just as easily been released separately as Vol. 2 and Vol. 3.

While 2010's Vol. 1 feature Tootie Heath on drums, Magris' follow-up septet does not feature any marquee names. Throughout the set, Magris sets a swinging tone, dispensing a strong left hand and confident lines. Trumpeter Hermon Mehari has the biggest shoes to fill and he does so admirably. He summons blistering chops for a hard-swinging performance that anchors the set. Dense tunes like "Zambia" from Morgan's Delightfulee are pushed by the twin rhythmic team of drummer Brian Steever and percussionist Pablo Sanhueza. While the original recording of "Gary's Notebook" from The Sidewinder revels in frenetic energy, Magris' rendition is a little too busy with his piano and Peter Schlamb's vibraphone rolling together but the tune rights itself with fine solo spots.

Magris even has the hubris to sneak in a few of his originals. Thankfully, they fit the Morgan mold with "A Summer's Kiss" reaching for a "Ceora"-like bossa vibe. This is a fun set of hard-driving swing that upholds the spirit of its honoree, shining a light on the trumpeter's lesser-known compositions.

Roberto Magris @ DownBeat

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