Q - 2/04, p.1153 stars out of 5
- "[T]he expansive title cut and melodically fertile 'The Joker' both boast striking central themes and warm ensemble playing from Morgan and star accomplices."
Personnel: Lee Morgan (trumpet); Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone); Herbie Hancock (piano); Grant Green (guitar); Reginald Workman (bass); Billy Higgins (drums).
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on February 15, 1964. Includes liner notes by Nat Hentoff.
This release is something of a departure for the bold trumpet stylist. After the Latin-tinged dance-floor jams of THE SIDEWINDER (released about six months prior to this disc), Morgan turns somewhat reflective. The music is quieter, with a good deal of structural space and restrained, almost expressionistic playing. The title track opens the album and evokes a mood of poignancy and careful balance, like a Japanese painting. Even the more up-tempo numbers like "The Joker" and "Mr. Kenyatta" are relaxed and thoughtful, the richly textured passages unfolding in a way that seems both organic and tightly disciplined.
Morgan's playing maintains its articulate brightness, but his notes and phrases are carefully shaded. This is matched by Wayne Shorter's sax work (also simultaneously edgy and lyrical), Grant Green's glowing guitar and Herbie Hancock's atmospheric contributions. Lee should also be recognized as a significant composer, since all the tracks here, with their floating themes and protean solo sections, are from his pen. SEARCH FOR THE NEW LAND live up to its title, finding a high ground of intelligent, evocative work and outstanding playing.