LEE MORGAN: The Rumproller (Blue Note)

As a follow-up to his unexpected hit, "The Sidewinder," Lee Morgan recorded Andrew Hill's "The Rumproller." While the commercial success may not have been on par with his previous effort, musically, it's one of his best. The title track is based on a groove held firmly in place by drummer Billy Higgins, and features a great solo by tenor man Joe Henderson. The other tunes are all exemplary hard bop, with strong tunes by Morgan and Wayne Shorter. Pianist Ronnie Matthews plays with just the right amount of funk on "Desert Moonlight." On the spry "Eclipso," the quintet starts with a variation of the bossa nova, then slips into a calypso theme. "The Lady" is a touching ballad, with Morgan making a rare appearance on muted trumpet. One of the disc's most memorable songs is the bonus track, "Venus Di Mildrew," which was left off the original album due to time restrictions.

Blue Note just reissued this album as part of the latest batch of RVG Editions, and it sounds better than ever. Also included are new liner notes by Bob Blumenthal. Personally, I prefer The Rumproller to The Sidewinder (also available as an RVG Edition), but you can't go wrong with either of them.

© 1999 Steve Marshall

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