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Chops: Terell Stafford on Lee Morgan’s Soulful Technique

"Everyone who told stories about Lee all said the same thing: He was an extremely natural player."

Terell Stafford (photo: Philippe Levy-Stab)
Terell Stafford (photo: Philippe Levy-Stab)
Lee Morgan in 1963 (photo by Francis Wolff/Mosaic Images)

I came to jazz very late, in my second year of graduate school at Rutgers University. I thought pursuing it would make me a better classical trumpet player. When I first started I heard Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis; it was Miles who really taught me the vocabulary. But after grad school I started working in Philadelphia, where I was saturated with Lee Morgan.

I was working with the great organist Shirley Scott, who would talk about Lee Morgan and his playing and tell me stories. Then I met Jimmy Heath, who would do the same. When saxophonist Tim Warfield and I played together-he was the one who actually taught me a lot about jazz when we were learning to play-we played a lot of Lee’s tunes.

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