Tribute albums have become staples of the jazz industry. On this 2011 effort, laudable Italian pianist Roberto Magris pays homage to late, great, hard-bop trumpeter Lee Morgan who died from a gunshot wound in 1972 at New York City's Slugs jazz venue. The trumpeter's stylistic fusion of R&B and groove-oriented patterns set his craft apart from many peers, in addition to his fluidly melodic phrasings and largely memorable compositions. Here, Magris leads a young band, featuring renowned jazz drummer, Albert "Tootie" Heath (Heath Brothers).
Magris shines as the more prominent soloist on this sprightly mix, featuring a young frontline horn section. Primarily comprised of Morgan original compositions, the artists abide by an up-tempo mode of attack, augmented by good cheer and a contempo vibe.
On "Party Time," trumpeter Brandon Lee projects the soul-jazz aspects of Morgan's playing as Magris exudes his inner sanctum of emotive attributes on the eighty-eights. And "Desert Moonlight," is designed with a perky Latin vibe, featuring the pianist's forceful presence and a tour-de-force solo spot, dappled with fluent block chord developments and bop-ish single note runs. However, Magris' ability to morph supreme technical components into spirited actualizations of a given theme, offers a harmonious realm of notions and motifs.
With Heath's snappy rhythms and firm support by bassist Elisa Pruett, the soloists enjoy a broad foundation to expand, contract, and delve into subtle intricacies. Magris employs young hornists, saxophonist Logan Richardson and trumpeter Brandon Lee for this set, although various improvisational segments seem to be flowing on autopilot or perhaps suffer from a lack of captivating storylines and mini-motifs. Hence, improvisation is an art-form that ripens with age, experience and a personalized voice. Otherwise, Magris will be releasing Vol. 2 of the Morgan tribute at some point in the near future. Overall, it's an entertaining set, spiked with effective dynamics and a spirited group-focused methodology.