I Called Him Morgan
M/A/D | Documentaries
Jazz fans will know Lee Morgan for "The Sidewinder," a genuine bop pop hit in 1964. Six years earlier, at 18 years old, he was blowing with Dizzy Gillespie—then Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, et al. Fast company! But you don’t have to dig bebop to appreciate the multiple, tragic ironies that make this such a sucker punch of a crime story, delivered here with palpable love and respect… and bittersweet regret. See, Morgan was up, and then he was down—so down that one time he heard a memorial tribute to himself on the radio. A junkie, he pawned his trumpet, pawned his raincoat, pawned his stellar career. And then he had the great fortune to meet Helen More, jazz den mother.
It was Helen who put him back on his feet, Helen who got him out of hock and off the heroin and back in the clubs playing better than ever. They were in love. But when all was said and done Lee Morgan was dead at 33 and Helen was the one who shot him.
At the heart of Kasper Collin’s poignant and evocative documentary is the only interview with More, an audio recording in which she shares her side of the story. This and new interviews with Wayne Shorter, Paul West and Jymie Merritt shine new light on Morgan’s rise, fall, resurrection and ultimate demise.