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Frank Morgan: Bop!

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If anyone currently playing jazz knows how to bop it’s Frank Morgan, and his way with this program of eight bebop chestnuts ranging from “Half Nelson” to “A Night In Tunisia” is clear and sure. However it seems almost a shame to involve the imaginative pianist-composer Rodney Kendrick, whose trio backs Morgan, and not adapt any of his bracingly fresh compositions. Instead what we have here is almost a bebop’s greatest hits package, though repeated listens prove that the kinda Monk-ish Kendrick is a decent fit for these tunes.

By no means a frenzied, pot-boiling affair, Morgan takes the time to nurse the nuances of the music. This is a very relaxed-though far from somnambulant-date befitting a man of Morgan’s astute bop immersion. His alto tone is relaxed and confident, and he addresses these lines as if born to them.