Lee Morgan (1938-1972) was an American jazz trumpeter and composer. He was born on July 10, 1938, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Morgan began playing the trumpet at a young age and showed exceptional talent. He joined Dizzy Gillespie’s big band in 1956 at the age of 18, which marked the beginning of his professional career. Morgan gained recognition as a sideman in various jazz groups, including Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He became an influential figure in the hard-bop jazz movement of the 1960s, known for his powerful sound, technical virtuosity, and soulful playing.
In 1957, Morgan recorded his debut album as a bandleader, titled “Lee Morgan Indeed!” Over the following years, he released several critically acclaimed albums, including “The Sidewinder” (1963), which became his most successful and best-known work. The album featured the hit title track, which became a crossover success and reached a wider audience beyond the jazz community. During his career, Morgan collaborated with numerous jazz musicians, including John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and McCoy Tyner, among others. He was a prolific recording artist and recorded over 25 albums as a leader.
Unfortunately, Lee Morgan’s life was cut tragically short. On February 19, 1972, at the age of 33, he was shot and killed by his wife, Helen Morgan, during a performance at Slugs’ Saloon in New York City. The incident shocked the jazz community, and Morgan’s untimely death left a void in the world of jazz.
Despite his premature death, Lee Morgan’s contributions to jazz and his distinct trumpet playing continue to inspire musicians and jazz enthusiasts to this day. His recordings remain highly regarded, and he is remembered as one of the great trumpeters of his era.