If awards were given for unusual album inspiration, Carol Morgan would be the front runner. According to the CD’s liner notes, the material came about as Morgan was helping a friend care for newborn twins who had to be fed approximately every three hours. Morgan’s turn to help came in the overnight hours. This brief album of six songs has themes of night, motherhood and autumn wrapped in its effective measures.
About Carol Morgan
Morgan’s route to full-time jazz musician is either exactly what people expect, or nothing like it. While not entirely circuitous, it is not a typical story. Maybe the hard-won path is what makes the end product more enjoyable.
Texas native Morgan lives in New York City andworks as a trumpeter, composer, educator and author. Her route to the Big Apple was completely by happenstance: she decided to apply to Julliard (which counts Miles Davis as an alum) in response to what she thought was a joke by her trumpet instructor. To Morgan’s surprise she was accepted and even received a scholarship named in Davis’s honor.
The recording represents Morgan’s sixth project as a band leader. She’s had numerous side roles in ensembles, including the DIVA jazz orchestra, and NPR’s The engine of our ingenuity. Interestingly, Morgan has written a well-received textbook, called “The Practicing Improviser.”
Post Cool Vol. 1
While Morgan has composed original songs, only one original song of hers appears on this CD. The trumpet is moody and flexible. The drums are just shy of a full clatter. The mood is almost intense, and halfway through, it seems the song is over, or is about to fade out when the bass growls its way through measures sparsely attended by the drums and the intensity and focus changes so that until the trumpet comes back in, listeners will be sure another song has started.
For some listeners, the term “post cool” might have little meaning. But one way to think of it is that “cool” indicates the period after the frenzied playing of bebop masters, when musicians returned to slower paces and sounds that soothed and surrounded. Davis was a key practitioner. In all the decades after the 1940s, until approximately the 1970s, cool jazz was a well-known and often used subgenre. In contemporary times, cool and post cool, are treated as retro styles, which seems a bit limited, and maybe even unfair. Given the number of contemporary artists that seem willing to embrace post cool style, simply calling the form what it is would be more accurate.
A trumpet and a set of drums mirror tease each other for several measures. The trumpet begins to whisper in staccato notes, then the notes become a bit more legato, and a bass kicks in that begins to drive the entire song. The bass is deep and groovy, and it is the bass and trumpet that become the focal point for a while. The trumpet can be said to dance around the lines of the other instruments. Ultimately, the trumpet soars shrill and the staccato notes come back. The slow clatter of the drums, complete with the soft crush of cymbals make a nice complement to the driving bass. It is not too difficult to imagine the urban scene in which the title objects make their escape from trees and blow down the street. This is a must-listen for post-cool fans.
Morgan’s road to full-time jazz musician might not have been as straightforward as others, but the fact that she’s arrived is good news for jazz.