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Lanny Morgan: A Suite for Yardbird

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An alto saxophonist performing Charlie Parker’s “Ko Ko” faces two challenges: The first is reproducing the “melody line,” Bird’s solo on the chords of “Cherokee.” It is a chorus of improvisational mastery that has boggled minds for 54 years. Lanny Morgan’s technique allows him to blow past that concern with ease. The second-and greater-challenge for the saxophonist is to follow the brilliant Parker set piece with a solo that succeeds on its own terms. Morgan’s two choruses on “Ko Ko” are full of Bird’s spirit and much of his vocabulary, but he uses Parker’s language in a statement that is forthrightly Morganesque. His work in 11 other Parker compositions is equally personal and original within the idiom.

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