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DICK MORGAN at The Showboat


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Dick Morgan (p)  Keter Betts (b)  Bertell Knox (drs)

'live' at The Showboat, Washington, D.C.; May 4, 1960

1.For Pete's Sake (5:07) (Dick Morgan)
2.I Ain't Got Nobody (3:45) (Williams – Peyton)
3. (Erroll Garner)
4. The Gypsy in My Soul (8:07) (Jaffe – Boland)
1.Will You Still Be Mine? (6:38) (Adair – Dennis)
2.Big Fat Mama (7:47) (Millinder – Simon)
3.Like Lois (4:06) (Dick Morgan)
4.It’s All Right with Me (4:20) (Cole Porter)

   Careful, long-range planning is, I suppose, generally the best policy to follow in life, and even in operating a record company.  But every once in a while (if only as an exception to prove the rule), a dash of quick, unplanned action is called for.  At least, that appears to be the conclusion to be drawn from the circumstances under which pianist DICK MORGAN came into our lives and suddenly launched what I more than suspect will be along and highly successful recording career.
   The month of May, 1960, began at Riverside with a long-distance telephone call from Cannonball Adderley.  The alto star’s quintet was playing a theater engagement in Washington, D.C.; the substance of his call was that he had visited a local club, The showboat, after work the night before and had heard – and been vastly impressed by – Dick Morgan.  Cannonball’s request was that a recording session, as part of the newly inaugurated series of albums under his supervision, be arranged for just about immediately.  Having learned from experience that Adderley’s enthusiasms are not lightly expressed (such highly regarded Riverside artists as Wes Montgomery, Blue Mitchell and Bobby Timmons were his recommendations), the middle of the well found record-introducing the fleet and swinging Mr. Morgan to the jazz-record public, was the result.
   Actually, Dick had not been completely kept secret before this.  KETER BETTS, the remarkably big-toned Washington bassist who is heard here in support of Morgan and has appeared on other Riverside LPs, had spoken highly of him to us and to Adderley,  but it took the sudden impact of Cannonball’s first hearing of the young pianist to galvanize everyone into action.
   Born in Petersburg, Virginia, in June of 1929, Morgan began playing the piano about as far back as he can remember, began to be interested in jazz at about the age of 12,  and was playing professionally by the time he moved to Norfolk, Virginia (about a hundred miles from his hometown) in 1953.  In 1956, he was heard by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, who planned to take him under their wing and had him booked for some months at the New Frontier in Las Vegas and then at a hotel in Reno.  But the death of both Dorseys halted that project which, in any event, had meant no jazz exposure for Dick (at the Nevada spots, he notes, “all the people wanted from me was noise”).  Returning to Norfolk, he worked locally, including his own television show for a year and a half on WTAR.  Then a casual trip to Washington led him t sit in at The Showboat one night, which led to an offer of a job there.  After much hesitation (and repeated re-offers from the club), Dick accepted what was in effect his first real jazz-club job, which of course led in turn to this record . . .
   The influence of Oscar Peterson is firmly acknowledged by Morgan as an important starting point.  But aside from the fact that Dick also really gets around on the keyboard in full and active fashion (he happens to feel that many current pianists just “don’t play enough” in solos), it doesn’t seem accurate to pigeonhole him as a member of a Peterson “school”.  He appears, rather, to be well on the way to being his own man, with a style that among other things leans a lot towards the funky side of the scale.
   This is immediately audible on the opening track, a blues called For Pete’s Sake that is one of two Morgan originals here, and it is further emphasized by the earthy Big Fat Mama.  The second of Dick’s tunes, Like Lois, is a quiet ballad; and the album also includes a rich probing of the Erroll Garner ballad, Misty.  The four standards that make up the rest of his repertoire are mostly taken at brightly moving tempos, with Matt Dennis' Will You Still Be Mine? a particularly notable sample of how this young performer can ‘wail’ at speed.  Gypsy in My Soul is worth singling out among the items on which Betts and Bertell Knox (a firm and propulsive brush-artist whom both Dick and Keter consider superbly adept at the difficult art of trio drumming) get a chance to show their stuff, and is also a good example of the trio integration this unit had worked up in only a relatively brief time together.

   The heading “A Cannonball Adderley Presentation” designates a series of albums – of which this is the second – conceived, organized and supervised by the many-faceted Julian Adderley, already known as a major instrumentalist, leader of a top-ranked quintet, an incisive and articulate writer on jazz subjects and a highly perceptive judge of jazz talent.  On these LPs, Cannonball will spotlight either completely new or comparatively neglected artists he finds particularly worthy of attention, presented in settings he considers most suitable and effective.
   Riverside is proud to be able, in turn, to present Adderley, one of our most distinguished recording stars, in this new, unusual and (we feel) uniquely valuable role.

   The first “Cannonball Adderley Presentation” LP is –
The Sound of the Wide Open Spaces: JAMES CLAY and DAVID “FATHEAD” NEWMAN (RLP 12-327; also Stereo RLP 1178)
   The producer of this album is represented musically on several Riverside LPs; among them are –
Them Dirty Blues: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY QUITNET (RLP 12-322; also Stereo RLP-1170)
The CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quintet in San Francisco (RLP 12-311; also Stereo 1157)
Things Are Getting Better: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY, with Milt Jackson (RLP-286; also Stereo RLP 1128)
   Keter Betts can also be heard on –
The Soul Society; SAM JONES, with Nat Adderley, Blue Mitchell, Bobb Timmons, Jimmy Heath (RLP 12-324; also Stereo RLP 1172)
Work Song; NAT ADDERLEY, with Wes Montgomery (RLP 12-318; also Stereo RLP 1167)

The present recording is also available in Monaural form on RLP 329)


Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photo by KETER BETTS
Recording Engineer: RAY FOWLER
Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS on a HYDROFEED lathe.

235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.

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