Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Search For The New Land

Search For The New Land
Blue Note BST 84169

Recorded Feb. 15th, 1964

Side One

1. Search For The New Land
2. The Joker

Side Two

1. Mr. Kenyatta
2. Melancholee
3. Morgan The Pirate


WAYNE SHORTER; Tenor Saxophone

1964 was quite a year for Blue Note records, and for bop-influenced musics in particular. Musicians had already been working outside the form, but the jazz mainstream was slower to pick up on the new trend. Three albums from 1964 on the Blue Note label stand out as excellent examples of the new, more advanced music - Herbie Hancock's 'Empyrean Isles', Wayne Shorter's 'Night Dreamer', and this one.

Particularly close to this is the Shorter record - the one-time Art Blakey bandmates of Morgan and Shorter performing in perfect contrast to one another. But where 'Night Dreamer' is often brooding, meditative even; 'Search...' is a much livelier date all together without losing the feeling of yearning that the title would suggest. Perhaps this is down to the leader's history - pre-Blakey, he was a firm proponent of straight-ahead hard-bop in the Clifford Brown style. That's not to say the music is simple - Higgins and Workman are more than a match for Morgan's polyrhythmic compositions, while Hancock applies his usual thoughtful intensity to proceedings. Green adds additional colour and proves himself immensley capable outside of his usual soulful setting.

The best feature of the album, though, is Morgan's approach to compositon. While his earlier material was all youthful exuberance, the older and wiser Lee of 1964 was able to bring a greater emotional depth to his writing, and communicate that to his fellow musicians. This is the aspect in which he really leads the session - not in his playing (which is excellent as ever) or even in the democratic way he hands out solo space to his bandmates.

The only problem with this record was it's timing, coming only a few months after 'The Sidewinder' - a fine record - but it's success meant that Morgan increasingly worked in it's soul jazz idiom rather than the more advanced forms seen here, and that really was a loss to jazz.

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