As much as I love "the procrastinator", "cornbread", and "the sidewinder", this is the definative Lee Morgan album for me. As with all post-sidewinder albums the knock on this one by the jazz-police (the great defenders of cliche and self-important snobbery) is the sidewinderesque first track: "Yes I can, No you can't". For people who can look past labels (and the head of the tune) what you'll find with this track is something very similar to Hank Mobley's "Dippin'", namely a very soulful, very engaging, slice of jazz-funk, done as only Lee Morgan could do it. However the person who makes this album a classic isn't so much the usual suspect of excellence: Wayne Shorter and his brilliant compositional skills and jagged tenor, but rather the pure-hot-fire drumming of Billy Higgins. I think a pretty good case could be made that no one in the history of jazz was a player in more quality recorded sessions than Higgins, one of the two or three greatest ever drummers in jazz. This is a man who could truely do it all, from the high speed Tony Williams like drumming on this album, to, fast forward forty years, his verging on languid, anticipating-improv with Charles Lloyd. Billy Higgins kept the fire burning for a long time, and under many different jazz-pots, but with this album we get Higgins at his most vital, his most alive and immediate. We also get Lee Morgan at his most engaged, no hint here of some of the going-through-the-motions-tiredness of some sideman sessions, or the hesitant tone of late sixties post-swimming accident Lee. This is Lee reaching into his bag of tricks and shooting them all out of his shining horn. He even throws in a ballad just to show that he can. In short this is an album for people who can see past the cheese of the title, the tired criticisms of the self-superior, and who can deal with an album on its own terms. If you can do that what you'll find is a master on the trumpet doing what he does best. And that is a thing to behold.
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