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Frank Morgan

Born: December 23, 1933 | Died: December 14, 2007    Primary Instrument: Sax, alto

Frank Morgan

It is a real rarity for a jazz musician to have his career interrupted for three decades and then be able to make a complete comeback. Frank Morgan showed a great deal of promise in his early days, but it was a long time before he could fulfill his potential. The son of guitarist Stanley Morgan (who played with the Ink Spots), he took up clarinet and alto early on. Morgan moved to Los Angeles in 1947 and was approached by Duke Ellington who wanted the then 15-year-old Frank to go on the road with his band. Frank's father wanted his son to finish school so the Ellington gig never materialized, but by the time he was 17, Frank was working at LA's Club Alabam, backing the likes of Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday. Morgan worked on the bop scene of early-'50s Los Angeles, recording with Teddy Charles (1953) and Kenny Clarke (1954), and under his own name for GNP in 1955. Unfortunately, around that same time Frank followed his idol and mentor Charlie “Bird” Parker into heroin addiction, and spent most of the next thirty years serving time for thefts to support his habit. Yet except for periods in the Los Angeles County jail system, he never strayed too far from music. At most penal institutions, there were bands made up of inmates, and Morgan was greeted as a celebrity. He was constantly made gifts of mouthpieces, drugs, food, cigarettes. “The greatest big band I ever played with was in San Quentin. Art Pepper and I were proud of that band. We had Jimmy Bunn and Frank Butler, and some other musicians who were known and some who weren't, but they could play. We played every Saturday night for what they called a Warden's Tour, which showed paying visitors only the cleanest cell blocks and exercise yards. But people would take that tour just to hear the band.”...
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A NIGHT IN THE LIFE
High Note (2007)
George Cables, piano; Curtis Lundy, bass;
Billy Hart, drums

REFLECTIONS
High Note (2006)
Ronnie Mathews, piano; Essiet Essiet, bass;
Billy Hart, drums

RAISING the STANDARD
High Note (2005)
George Cables, piano; Curtis Lundy, bass;
Billy Hart, drums

CITY NIGHTS
High Note (2004)
George Cables, piano; Curtis Lundy, bass;
Billy Hart, drums

BOP!
Telarc (1996)
Rodney Kendrick, piano; Curtis Lundy, bass; Leroy Williams, drums; and Ray Drummond, bass on 52nd Street Theme

LOVE, LOST & FOUND
Telarc (1995)
Cedar Walton, piano; Ray Brown, bass; Billy Higgins, drums

LISTEN TO THE DAWN
Antilles (1993)
Kenny Burrell, guitar; Ron Carter, bass; Grady Tate, drums

YOU MUST BELIEVE IN SPRING
Antilles (1992)
Featuring 5 piano greats: Hank Jones, Barry Harris,
Sir Roland Hanna, Kenny Barron, and Tommy Flanagan

A LOVESOME THING
Antilles (1990)
George Cables, piano; David Williams, bass; Lewis Nash, drums; with Roy Hargrove on trumpet and ABBEY LINCOLN

MOOD INDIGO
Antilles (1989)
Ronnie Matthews, piano; Buster Williams, bass; Al Foster, drums; with special guest Wynton Marsalis, trumpet

YARDBIRD SUITE
Contemporary (1989)
Mulgrew Miller, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Al Foster, drums

REFLECTIONS
Contemporary (1989)
Joe Henderson, tenor; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes; Mulgrew Miller, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Al Foster, drums

MAJOR CHANGES
Contemporary (1987)
McCoy Tyner, piano; Avery Sharpe, bass; Louis Hayes, drums

QUIET FIRE
Contemporary (1987)
Bud Shank co-leads, with George Cables, piano; John Heard, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums

LAMENT
Contemporary (1986)
Cedar Walton, piano; Buster Williams, bass; Billy Higgins, drums

BEPOP LIVES!
Contemporary (1986)
Cedar Walton, piano; Buster Williams, bass; Billy Higgins, drums; with Johnny Coles, trumpet

EASY LIVING
Contemporary (1985)
Cedar Walton, piano; Tony Dumas, bass; Billy Higgins, drums

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Reflections
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