Nov 13, 2016
Scott Morgan has been around the New York jazz scene for more than a decade, but Songs of Life is his debut CD as a leader. After a few listens, the obvious question is:
Man, what took you so long?
Morgan has a warm, engaging tenor, and his phrasing rivets the listener to the lyrics he is singing, creating a wonderful intimacy. His band – pianist Fred Hersch, bassist Matt Aronoff, tenor saxman Joel Frahm, and drummer Ross Pederson – plays in a sensitive, yet solid, manner, allowing his to ring every drop of emotion he wants from the album’s13 well-chosen tunes.
Morgan treats songs from the Pop/Rock era with the same respect as those from Broadway, finding new ways to interpret songs by James Taylor and the Beatles that let them stand up with the Great American Songbook. His lyrics to Hersch’s “Mandevilla” allow the Brazilian flavor of the song to seep through with sensitivity and soul. His duet with Janis Siegel, “I’ll Follow” is an emotional highlight.
Podcast 551 is my conversation with Scott, as we discuss the CD, how he selects his material, and what songs he thought might work on Songs of Life, but ended up dropping. His story of how “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” came to be melded with the late Dave Catney's "Little Prayer" in a memorable performance is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Musical selections from Songs of Life include that medley, Kurt Weill’s “Lost in the Stars”, “I’ll Follow”, and Lennon and McCartney’s “I Will.”
Scott Morgan will play two matinee sets at the Blue Note in New York on November 20th, 2016 at 11:30 am and 1:30 pm.