I Called Him Morgan: Movie Review

Love, Drugs, Death and... Jazz

I'm just back from seeing this as part of the Belfast Film Festival. It's a very good documentary and it isn't necessary for you to be a 'jazz head' to enjoy it.

It's a biography of Lee Morgan, a jazz legend indeed, though not a household name perhaps; like a Miles Davis or a Louis Armstrong. He was probably best known for being part of the classic Jazz Messengers line up of the 50's and 60's and for playing on the likes of Blue Train for John Coltrane. He's one of my favourite trumpeters and one of the key players in the Hard Bop movement.  

The movie also follows the life of his common law wife and a chance encounter where in the 1990's, she told her story, shortly before her death.

The pivot of the film is the well known tragic tale of how in 1972, Morgan was performing in Slugger's club in New York. The night ended with his wife entering the club and shooting him during his set. There was a heavy snow in the city and the ambulance took over an hour to arrive. Sadly, Lee Morgan died of his wounds.

The film manages to piece together the life of a jazz pioneer, while unpicking his complex private life, that ultimately led to his premature death. 

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