Watch the Desert Lee online guitar lesson by David Hamburger from 50 Jazz-Blues Licks You MUST Know
Lee Morgan came blasting out of the Philadelphia jazz scene as a 17-year-old wunderkind in Dizzy Gillespie’s mid-nineteen fifties band. Jazz critic Nat Hentoff recalls first hearing Morgan as the trumpeter played a dazzling cadenza on Gillespie’s signature tune "A Night In Tunisia," which, to put things in perspective, is a little like first hearing some new guitarist because Jimi Hendrix has just hired him to take the solo on "Voodoo Child."
Morgan gained further attention through two separate stints with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and recorded prolifically for Blue Note as a solo artist and sideman throughout the 1960s. Murdered by an ex-girlfriend in 1971 in what David Rosenthal, author of Hard Bop, describes as "a scene straight out of ‘Frankie and Johnny,’" Morgan was considered by many to epitomize the hard bop school, and his success with "The Sidewinder" in 1964 made such boogaloo grooves de rigeur for his labelmates and many other musicians over the next half-decade.