Caramba (Blue Note Classic Vinyl Series)
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In May 1968 when he entered Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey to record his album ¡Caramba!, trumpeter Lee Morgan was still two months shy of his 30th birthday, which makes the fact that this was his 23rd Blue Note recording all the more astounding.
Having cut his first Blue Note date as a precocious 18-year-old hot shot, Morgan was by now a full-fledged master, his technical prowess on his horn matched equally by the expressiveness and emotional depth of his playing. He had also continued to grow as a composer who could conjure myriad different moods and styles with his writing, as this diverse 5-song set of his original compositions attests.
¡Caramba! opens with the irrepressible groove of the title track, a lengthy performance that finds the remarkable quintet stretching out on vamp with creative solo flights by Morgan, tenor saxophonist Bennie Maupin, and pianist Cedar Walton, each given buoyant support by bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Billy Higgins. The program keeps moving from there through the intricate post-bop lines of “Suicide City” and “Cunning Lee” to the joyful “Soulita” and finally to the easy mid-tempo swing of “Helen’s Ritual,” a dedication to Morgan’s wife Helen.
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, May 3, 1968