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Carol Morgan Quartet: Post Cool, Vol. 1: The Night Shift (Carol Morgan)

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Carol Morgan Quartet: "Post Cool, Vol. 1: The Night Shift"
Carol Morgan Quartet: “Post Cool, Vol. 1: The Night Shift”

Wow—this self-released album sounds like a classic out of the early 1940s, right down to its length (six songs running 40 minutes). It has the vibe of a live album from a New York club date during bop’s heyday, except recorded with more sophisticated equipment; the fidelity is as much the star here as the superb quartet, led by trumpeter Carol Morgan and featuring tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson. (Clearly Morgan thinks so too, because the engineer, masterer and producer are listed as equals alongside the musicians.)

First off: Who is Carol Morgan, and why isn’t she better known? And why isn’t she signed to a popular label? That’s the big mystery here. Post Cool, Vol. 1 is a mature work made by a musician who is confident in her skills as a bandleader, arranger and soloist. Ten-second bio: She’s a Juilliard grad, itinerant sidewoman and jazz educator who’s made six recordings as a leader.

Morgan chose the songs on this record because they evoke the night. But what they truly evoke is late night in a jazz club. The performances by all four musicians are urgent and raw. They play as though notes are scarce, and both horn players bend and slur their phrases instead of hopping up and down scales. Morgan’s tone is soft and velvety, somewhere between the detached coolness of Miles Davis and the intimacy of Chet Baker. It’s most striking on her original ballad “Night,” but it’s there in the long, melancholy “Autumn Leaves”—where she and Frahm solo against each other, taking turns with the lead like dancers—and on the harder-swinging numbers “Strollin’” and “A Night in Tunisia.” This is a beautiful, timeless record.

Originally Published