Morgan''s sweet sax brings personality, uplifting music to the Bird of Paradise

BY ADAM KAPLAN
For The Daily
Published September 23, 2001

This weekend Alto Sax player Frank Morgan brought his soulful, sweet jazz to the Bird of Paradise. Inspired by Charlie Parker"s early bop music, Morgan collaborated with bassist Ron Brooks and his trio. Most of his compositions were standards derived from Broadway original tunes, highly influenced by the work of legendary jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and, of course, Charlie Parker.

Morgan seemed to perform with a certain grace, almost as if nothing really bothered him. His peaceful, solemn demeanor and his reserved personality on stage enabled him to express his inner feelings through his saxophone. While playing Morgan displayed an uncanny ability to ease his emotions, rocking from side to side, back and forth , ever so subtly. Every sax player expresses their music differently, particularly in the way they conduct themselves on stage.

In a humble way his modern bop music engaged with his audience, by means of a "talk back session." The back and forth drum rolls, spliced with Morgan"s gentle sax sound created an inner dialogue with the crowd. The Bop style, in essence, is representative of this spontaneous interaction among its musicians.

Morgan, alongside Ron Brooks on Bass, Tad Weed on piano and Jim Francek on drums played beautiful, uplifting music. The sound seemed to put life in a proper perspective.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Morgan"s quiet, gentle personality shined through. Morgan revealed a bit about his transient childhood. Originally from Minneapolis, he moved to Milwaukee at 6-years-old. The saxophone was not the first intrument he learned Morgan took up the guitar until he was about seven years old. By age 14, he had mastered the art of playing the saxophone. Morgan had relocated westward to Los Angeles to further enhance his young career as a jazz musician.

For some time, he played with Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, and the legendary John Coltrane, all of whom are champions in the hearts of the modern day jazz community.

When asked about his outlook on jazz, Morgan claims that "Jazz is in Good Hands." He expressed his pride toward the contributions of young cats like Wynton Marsalis. Indeed, the art of jazz has a bright future ahead. It has its influence globally from Osaka to Paris.

To Morgan, Paris is his venue of choice when it comes to performance. "They are a quiet, patient, and an excellent audience there," Morgan said. Jazz, although is rooted in the American tradition, has become an integral part of the international music scene.

As Americans, we tend to overlook the value jazz music possesses. In a time of national crisis, Morgan"s jazz, in particular, brings something universal, that virtually every person can appreciate if they take time to stop and listen.