Sunday, September 23, 2012

Donvonte McCoy Celebrated Lee Morgan

Donvonté McCoy Sextet with Fred Foss on alto sax, Donvonte McCoy on trumpet, Elijah Jamal Balbed on tenor saxophone, Hope ? piano, Blake Meissner ? on bass and Steve Williams on drums.
Thursday evening September 20, 2012 , I had the pleasure of seeing a tribute to the legendary trumpet player and composer Lee Morgan at the Kogod Courtyard of the Smithsonian's Museum of American Art that featured trumpeter Donvonté McCoy Sextet. The presentation was part of the Museum's monthly Take 5 series. It has been 40 years since the tragic shooting of Morgan and the program of lesser known compositions by Morgan was a special program for fans of Morgan as well as aficionados of hard bop.
Donvonté McCoy

There was quite a turnout for this program including a niece and nephew of Morgan. I did not fully get the name of the pianist (I believe his first name was Hope) and I believe the name of the bassist was Blake Meissner (I was not taking notes during the program). On alto sax was Washington legend Fred Foss and on tenor saxophone was Elijah Jamal Balbed who is establishing himself as among the DC area's finest players. Another legend, Steve Williams was on drums. For the second set, trombonist Lincoln Ross, and then Brad Line on Baritone replaced Balbed.

Fred Foss
Steve Williams

The music was excellent. I had heard much about McCoy, and was not disappointed by the warmth and bite in his playing and the whole band was excellent. I do not remember all of the compositions they played by did include "The Sixth Sense" "Top Cat" and "Rigor Mortis." In addition to meeting a niece and nephew of Morgan, I spoke with Earle Gullins, President of the Lee Morgan Jazz Fan Club of DC, Maryland and Virginia who is writing a biography of Morgan. Also, WPFW programmer and historian Rusty Hassan was among the many enjoying the music.

Lee Morgan's nephew; Earle Gullins; unidentified (holding Lee Morgan's flugelhorn) and Rusty Hassan.
These monthly programs continue on the third Thursday of each month (although they are skipping November and December). October 18, saxophonist Brian Settles will lead a program devoted to the music of  Dewey Redman while on January 17, 2013, the Elijah Jamal Balbed Quintet +1 will help celebrate the 80th Birthday year of Wayne Shorter with a program focusing on his Shorter's compositions from his time with Vee-Jay Records (before he signed with Blue Note). The shows start at 5;00PM and run until 7:00PM when the Museum closes. There is food and drink available at the Museum.

Elijah Jamal Balbed

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