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Candy (1957)

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Art Taylor

Recorded when he was only 19, Candy was one of the first albums (along with The Cooker, recorded the same year) where Lee Morgan showed his own unique style. His prodigal technical virtuosity had already been proven at this time in the Dizzy Gilliespie band, but Morgan's first solo ventures had been remarkable only because of his young age. Here, the influence of some of Morgan's mentors can be seen, but instead of just emulating the style of older trumpeters like Clifford Brown, he has begun absorbing bits and pieces of the phrasing and style of a wide range of musicians, from Gillespie to Miles Davis, then using them to forge his own sound. Morgan places himself front and center here -- there are no other horns to carry the melodic lines, leaving him quite exposed, but he manages to perform beautifully. Not merely a technical marvel, his tone on this album was sweet and his playing fluid, infused with joy and crisply articulated emotion. Morgan would later turn out to be an expert songwriter, but here songs like Buddy Johnson's "Since I Fell for You," and Jimmy Heath's "C.T.A." gave him ample space to show off his talents. ~ Stacia Proefrock