Tributee: Lee Morgan.
Personnel: Terell Stafford (trumpet); Tim Warfield (saxophone); Bruce Barth (piano); Dana Hall (drums).
Audio Mixer: Katsuhiko Naito.
Liner Note Author: Shaun Brady.
Recording information: Systems Two Recording Studio, Brooklyn, NY (05/19/2014).
Photographers: Frank Stewart; Philippe Levy-Stab; Harry Caston.
Trumpeter Terell Stafford pays tribute to jazz legend Lee Morgan on 2015's Brotherlee Love: Celebrating Lee Morgan. Joining Stafford here are longtime associates saxophonist Tim Warfield, pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Dana Hall. Together, Stafford and his ensemble jump headlong into a handful of songs composed and/or strongly associated with Morgan. A hard bop-era trumpeter, Morgan (who was tragically murdered outside a club in 1972) was known for his exuberant, gymnastic style and clarion tone. He was also a champion of the funky, danceable "boogaloo" rhythm, most notably exploited on his 1963 classic "The Sidewinder." Although Stafford deftly sidesteps the obvious inclusion of "Sidewinder," he does tap into the boogaloo vibe on the rolling "Yes I Can, No You Can't." Elsewhere, Stafford delivers a swaggering, fiery solo on the propulsive "Speedball" and settles nicely into the gooey romance of "Candy," done here as a ballad in thoughtful contrast to Morgan's jaunty 1953 version. Also ear-catching is the group's kinetic, Latin-tinged take on Morgan's "Mr. Kenyatta," featuring a soulful, angular solo turn from Warfield. Fittingly, the sole non-Morgan-related inclusion is Stafford's laconic, swinging original "Favor," which showcases his own Morgan-esque chops on a bluesy solo rubato intro. While Stafford has come into his own as a trumpeter and jazz stylist in the past decade, it's always fascinating to hear him put his own twist on the jazz tradition as he does on Brotherlee Love. ~ Matt Collar