See What I Mean?: DICK MORGAN Trio
Dick Morgan (p) Keter Betts (b) Bertell Knox (drs)
NYC; October 31, 1960
Rocks in My Bed (4;37) (Duke Ellington)
Love for Sale (7:33) (Cole Porter)
I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face (4:06) (Lerner – Loewe)
When Lights Are Low (4:07) (Mills – Carter)
See What I Mean? (6:24) (Dick Morgan)
Lil’ Darling (4:47) (Neil Hefti)
Home (3:41) (Van Steeden – Clarkson)
Meditation (5:06) (Dick Morgan)
See what I mean? The title of this album asks a question which might well be considered the most important which any young musician can ask the world, and one which in one way or another, directly or indirectly, is constantly being asked by every creative artist.
In the case of DICK MORGAN, considerable evidence on which to case your answer is right here in the album at hand. Start, for example, with the opening track of either side: the qualities blues-drenched Rocks in My Bed or the more robustly funky title tune. Having already reached our own conclusions, we at Riverside are going to be very much surprised if you don’t agree that this young Virginia-born pianist means business – the business of playing jazz that is wonderfully, compellingly strong, that is swinging , melodic and earthy.
It is certainly not uncommon for newcomers to emerge on today’s jazz scene. Quite the contrary, it often seems as if the flood of just-discovered talent is endless. And it is probably sadly true that – taking into consideration the physical limitations of the jazz public’s ear, time and money – a lot of deserving musicians are simply never really going to make the grade. Thus it takes not only much confidence on our part but also a good deal of nerve for us to announce a feeling that a given new performer has to make it. But few new talents inspire that sort of daring confidence, and Dick Morgan does. There is much here to catch the ear. Not only the sound of a young pianist bursting with ideas and melody and fervor, but also that of a man who plays his instrument with thoroughgoing professional skill and assurance. On his feet, Dick happens to be a quiet, almost shy fellow; but at the piano – as you can readily hear – he is something else again.
Riverside’s attention was focussed on Morgan in the Spring of 1960, when Cannonball Adderley heard him one night at “The Showboat” in Washington, D.C., and made him the subject of one of the first albums in the series which the many-faceted alto sax star has been supervising for this label. Making a quick decision to record Dick, and seeking also to minimize the tensions everyone faces the first time he records, we taped Morgan’s initial LP “live” at The Showboat. This, as it always does, meant a decision in favor of spontaneity over more-nearly-perfect studio sound conditions. This second album approaches the matter from the other side, with Dick being brought to New York for a studio session. But one important factor remained constant: the rhythm support here is by the same two outstanding men as before, the solid and big-toned Keter Betts on bass, and on drums Bertell Knox, whose notable work with brushes makes him a particularly valuable member of a trio.
There had been no substantial change in Morgan’s playing in the months between albums, but there is on this second outing the large-scale increase in self-confidence you hope for but can’s always count on getting. He has also been able to prepare a repertoire that accurately reflects the musical vein in which he is most at home. There is considerable variation of tempo, and the selections range from standards through modern jazz classics like Neil Hefti’s Lil’ Darling and Benny Carter’s When Lights Are Low to two of Morgan’s own tunes. But the feeling generated in almost all cases is an easy-swinging, blues-filled one: richly earthy without restricting itself by too much emphasis on the currently-prevalent “gospel” chords. Even the two ballad-tempo selections (I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face and Morgan’s own Meditation) and the album’s most swiftly-paced item, the old-times Home, Partake to some degree of this spirit. Two tunes in particular allow Dick to take advantage of his nature desire to stretch out: his own blues, See What I Mean? and a well-worked-out arrangement of Cole Porter’s Love for Sale that opens in deceptively leisurely fashion before proceeding to get considerable more funky than the sophisticated Mr. Porter could possibly have foreseen.
Until late in 1960, Dick’s working credits had been limited to club and TV work in Norfolk, Virginia, some months in Nevada spots (as, briefly, a protégé of the Dorsey brothers shortly before their deaths), and a long and successful stint at The Showboat in Washington. Just after recording this second album, Morgan formed a trio of his own and struck out on tour – which insures that more and more listeners are to have an opportunity to see, and her, exactly what Dick Morgan means.
Dick’s Riverside debut was on –
DICK MORGAN at The Showboat (RLP 329 and Stereo RLP 1183)
Riverside is proud of the outstanding roster of pianists featured on this label;
albums by other members of the group that Morgan has now joined include –
THELONIOUS MONK at The Blackhawk (RLP 12-323 and Stereo RLP 1171)
Thelonious Alone in San Francisco: solo piano by THELONIOUS MONK (RLP 12-312 and Stereo RLP 1158)
Portrait in Jazz: BILL EVANS Trio (RLP 12-315 and Stereo 1162)
Everybody Digs BILL EVANS (RLP 12-291 and Stereo RLP 1129)
This Here Is BOBBY TIMMONS (RLP 12-317 and Stereo 1164)
Soul Time: BOBBY TIMMONS (RLP 334 and Stereo RLP 9334)
BARRY HARRIS at The Jazz workshop (RLP 12-326 and Stereo RLP 1177)
Kelly Blue: WYNTON KELLY (RLP 12-298 and Stereo RLP 1142)
BILLY TAYLOR Uptown (RLP 12-319 and Stereo RLP 1168)
Warmin’ Up: BILLY TAYLOR Trio (RLP 12-339 and Stereo RLP 1159)
Produced and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photographs by KETER BETTS
Recording Engineer: RAY FOWLER. Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios
Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Corp.) on a HYDROFEED lathe.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.