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Lee Morgan: Taru

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Taru, a ’68 sextet date with Bennie Maupin, George Benson, John Hicks, Reggie Workman and Higgins, finds trumpeter Lee Morgan gearing up the transition that culminated in Live at the Lighthouse and the eponymous two-fer. Hicks’ “Avotcia One” and Morgan’s “Get Yourself Together” are hard-hitting modal cookers that could have easily withstood running times of twice their LP-friendly lengths. Morgan’s “Haeshen” and Cal Massey’s title tune confirm that, at 30, Morgan had come into his own as a balladeer. But it was only three years after “The Sidewinder,” so Morgan was still obliged to crank out potential soul jazz chart-toppers; though his “Dee Lawd” and “Durem” are reminders of his unique ebullience in the sub-genre, they make the album a mixed bag instead of a bold look ahead.