Black History Month: Lee Morgan

While the perpetually stylish trumpet player Lee Morgan was a consummate musician, bandleader and composer, he was nothing if not a prodigious swordsman.

It was, in fact, this libidinous inclination that brought about his premature demise at the messianic age of 33, as Morgan was shot dead by his scorned common-law wife while at a gig.

But who could blame the woman? Lee Morgan was the most stylish trumpet player after Miles Davis, and gained wide recognition during the Ivy heyday of the late ’50s and early ’60s. He’s seen above in a photo by Francis Wolff wearing rep tie and university-stripe buttondown.

With Morgan every detail was considered, and the same goes for his music as demonstrated by his hit record “Sidewinder.” a great introduction to this giant of jazz.

And here he is performing in 1961 with the Oscar Peterson Trio. — JASON MARSHALL

Jason W. Marshall is a New York-based, Grammy-nominated saxophonist, composer and arranger. He hold degrees from the New School for Social Research and Aaron Copeland School of Music. Catch him Sundays at Birdland.

15 Comments on "Black History Month: Lee Morgan"

  1. No need to create/perpetuate the stereotype of Black jazz musicians as the only Black men to follow Ivy style. There were (still are?) plenty of Black college professors who were followers of orthodox Ivy style.

  2. G. Bruce Boyer | February 19, 2012 at 10:59 am |

    Congrats to Mr. Marshall for a succinct, witty, informative piece. The great style of jazz artists has always been of interest to me, and this is a sterling example. Thank you.

    G. Bruce Boyer

  3. Honest Abe – does showing photos of Steve McQueen in ivy outfit create/perpetuate the stereotype of white actors as the only white men to follow ivy style?

    I’m all for exposing racist stereotypes, but I can’t see that here. Why don’t you collect some photos and/or write about ivy wearers who were black but not jazz musicians, then ask Chris Chens to post.

    Nice photo btw, I love a uni stripe.

  4. Yuca

    I can clearly see Honest Abe’s point. But before I get to that, as a person “all for exposing racist stereotypes” then you should know that your Steve McQueen comment was unfair, apologist, and condescending. Throughout the blog there are many examples of white Hollywood actors exhibiting the “Ivy style” so how does your McQueen comment even apply? Add to that, there are simply more white people featured here than any other group of people (not that that’s always a problem), so the idea that a group that rarely shows up here could possibly be subject to stereotyping isn’t that far off. And then we have the fact that the only men here in celebration of Black History Month are jazz musicians and one jazz age artist (most of the black men featured here at all fall into that category). Maybe Honest Abe’s point is hard for you to see, but it might help if you look.

    At any rate, thank you, Christian, for featuring these men. They are very stylish. Looking forward to seeing more.

  5. You seem to be saying that H Abe is correct to criticise this forum for creating/perpetuating ‘the stereotype of Black jazz musicians as the only Black men to follow Ivy style’, yet you’re thanking Chens for featuring ‘these men’ and ‘you’re looking forward to seeing more’. An obvious contradiction in your thinking.

    I think I understand Abe’s original point: photos from the past show black ivy wearers, some of whom were famous i.e. jazz musicians and tv/film actors, others of whom were not famous. The latter group have not been documented on the site, and this implies the only black ivy wearers were jazz musicians.

    If we take the above as a legitimate criticism of this site/Chens, surely it’s the lack of photos of non-famous black ivy wearers that is the fault, not the posting of photos of jazz musicians? Therefore my defence of the posting of this wonderful photo is not ‘unfair, apologist, and condescending’, and I resent the fact that you have stated otherwise. I’m all for combatting racism, and discussing this emotive subject, but that doesn’t give you the right to make unfounded accusations just because you disagree with my opinions. (Although the contradiction in your post suggests you also agree with my opinions i.e. you support the posting of this photo.)

    I suggest you make a positive contribution to the fight against racism, instead of attacking me for supporting the posting of a quality photo. Particularly as you too support the posting of the photo.

  6. Dickey Greenleaf | February 25, 2012 at 8:35 am |

    I was sure after looking at this youtube moment that, the comments would surely suggest, that all the comments would be something about good taste in clothing, or good taste in music? What the hell are you guys aguring about? This is not a court room, and you two gentleman are not lawyers, please!, let’s just foucus on what this forum is truely about, and not, what it’s not, about!, foolishness, unclassmanship, and apologistism?, Black History month is what February is all about in America, furthermore, I like Lee Morgan’s horn play, it’s very good, it kinda reminds me of Horace Silver and one of his famous trumpeters, Woody Shaw, great stuff,

  7. DG,

    For most Americans, February is more about cold weather, “President’s Day” (i.e., George Washington’s Birthday and the associated sales & day off), and basketball/hockey than it is about black history.

    However, your basic point–the exchange between those above is ridiculous–is spot-on.

  8. Maybe that’s the point of it, Henry.

  9. Haven’t we grown up sufficiently to stop pretending that Black history is of interest to the majority of Americans?

  10. @ Sandman

    The “majority of Americans” of which you speak is rapidly becoming the “minority of Americans”. Good or bad? I don’t know.

  11. @Sandman

    You obviously haven’t grown up enough to realize that not everyone is exactly like you. Nor do they wish to be.

  12. Ivy is not of interest to the majority of Americans – should we abolish this site?

  13. @Yuca:

    I must have been half-asleep when I penned that. I meant to say “the majority of Ivy afficionados” rather than “the majority of Americans”. Like most Ivy/Trad affcionados, I couldn’t care less about what the majority of Americans think.

  14. So only articles that are of interest to the majority of ivy/trad afficionados should be published?

    And how do we ascertain which subjects are of interest to the majority of ivy/trad afficionados? An online poll has the possibility of votes from those whose ivy fanatacism is questionable. Perhaps photos of each prospective voter’s wardrobe contents could be examined by experienced ivy afficionados.

  15. I think CC is very astute with his Black History Month postings.

    One the one hand, he shows the influence of Ivy style outside of its original base; on the other, he gets the opportunity to showcase a distinct American musical style.

    And, to top it all off, he gains legitimate non-“racist” credibility: if anyone hurls that epithet at him, all he needs to do is point out his tradition of BHM postings.

    Which is not, repeat, NOT to call him calculating. I believe that he has found a way to expand the ground that can be covered, which is good, and that it has several side benefits, which is also good.

    And to CC: I was responding to DG’s line that “Black History month is what February is all about in America.” I disagree; for most people, I think February is much more about winter weather, winter sports, and winter sales.

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