Alamitos Bay Landing, which has served as venue for a number of notable jazz events, will be the site of an evening devoted to celebrating a very notable jazz player. The concert (which is happening on Tuesday evening, October 25) will be divided into three one-hour-long shows at 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm, so you can pick and choose whichever time suits your schedule best. The event is to take place outside McKenna’s On The Bay, the seaside restaurant located at the tip of the famous pier in southeast Long Beach, at the parking lot of the Alamitos Bay Landing Shopping Center which is shared with the restaurant.
Anyone who’s familiar with jazz history ought to know who Lee Morgan is. It would be no exaggeration to say that Morgan is one of the kings of hard bop, along with Art Blakey, Benny Golson, Bobby Timmons, Horace Silver, and Wayne Shorter. Like Coltrane, he came from Philadelphia and started off touring with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band as a teenager. But his true brilliance as a soloist and composer was indelibly stamped on jazz history when he started delving into the realm of hard bop. An alumnus of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Morgan discovered the fireball saxophonist Wayne Shorter after Golson left the position open. He was the protégé for no one less than Clifford Brown and in turn paved the way for other legends like Freddie Hubbard. Within a span of fourteen years, he released over twenty stellar albums, including City Lights, Candy, and The Sidewinder (these happen to be my favorites, at least). But like so many of his fellow young musicians, Morgan was plunged into heroin addiction. In the end, he struggled bravely and embarked on the road to recovery when he was murdered by his own wife at the age of 33. It’s a shame to briefly summarize such a short but illustrious life. For a better history of Lee Morgan, check out Tom Perchard’s Lee Morgan: His Life, Music and Culture.
The tribute concert is guaranteed to be a big night. Kye Palmer himself will be there, channeling Lee Morgan as a guest performer. If you don’t know who Kye Palmer is, he’s a Grammy-winning trumpeter and performed for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 2006 to 2009. Like Lee Morgan, Palmer studied both the trumpet and vibes and jump-started his career in a big band. Palmer got his start in the legendary Woody Herman Orchestra and his career escalated from there, performing with Bob Dylan and Poncho Sanchez and recording soundtracks for Seven Pounds, Three to Tango¸ and other major films. An extremely versatile musician who can merge jazz, Latin, and country, he has a gift for making a brassy instrument like the trumpet create a refined legato sound. You can find his latest collaboration with the San Gabriel Seven on iTunes and his Blue Plate Special and Blues in Me albums at www.cduniverse.com.
Kye Palmer will be performing as a part of the Alex Sadnik Quintet, featuring an all-star cast – alto saxophonist Alex Sadnik, pianist Doug Carter, bassist Anthony Shadduck, and drummer Matt Witek. There’s no cover charge for the event, just bring some warm clothes and picnic food as you should for any outdoor concert in Long Beach. McKenna’s On The Bay is located on 190 Marina Drive on Alamitos Bay Landing in Long Beach, 90803. For more information, call (562) 342-9411 or visit www.mckennasonthebay.com. Parking is free, and transportation by bus, taxi, or boat is available.