I just watched this haunting jazz documentary about Lee Morgan and what led to the tragic death of the 33 year old trumpet genius.
I’m really into documentaries and the ones of musicians are always ranking high on my watch list.
Aside from shining light on what actually happened to Lee Morgan the story around is masterfully told with haunting cinematography, beautiful stills, interview with eye witnesses like legendary Wayne Shorter and Benny Maupin as well as Lee Morgan’s wife Helen talking to us via an old cassette tape (interviewed by Larry Reni Thomas) weeks before she died to tell her side of the story. The interviews from the past and present are entwined brilliantly and the snow footage towards the end of the movie really makes sit up and almost feel like you are there at ‘Snugs’ (Jazz club where Lee Morgan played regularly) on the faithful night.
Of course, last but not very least, Lee Morgan’s trumpet playing and his music is spellbinding. I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with the album: ‘Search for the New Land‘ and I ask myself – how could I’ve missed this one before? In one of the scenes Lee Morgan says in an interview that he doesn’t like the term ‘Jazz‘ and offers ‘Black Classical Music‘ instead but even that, in his opinion, doesn’t encompass it all. Have a listen yourselves – enjoy the beautiful music from the master(s) at work and stick whatever label you want onto it.
Here a review of the movie by Jordan Hoffman for the Guardian. I think it is well written and I agree with Jordan’s observations.
I understand the movie is a Swedish-American production by director Kaspin Collins. Respect to the man – I think this is a masterpiece!
Other documentaries that go beyond the cold facts of ‘what was happening’ are (IMHO):
Also a big thank you bassist Jymie Merritt for this recollections of events – beautiful and haunting. You can find out more about Jymie and his bass-playing son Mike here.
Producers, directors and story writers – please take note of this movie and set out on your own journies and measure up to this inspirational offering.
PS: You can watch this movie on Netflix.