Frank Morgan

It is a real rarity for a jazz musician to have his career interrupted for a 30-year period and then be able to make a complete comeback. Frank Morgan showed a great deal of promise in his early days, but it was a long time before he could fulfill his potential. The son of guitarist Stanley Morgan (who played with the Ink Spots), he took up clarinet and alto early on. Morgan moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1947 and won a talent contest, leading to him record a solo with Freddy Martin. Morgan worked on the bop scene of early-'50s Los Angeles, recording with Teddy Charles (1953) and Kenny Clarke (1954), and leading his own album for GNP in 1955. But then 30 years of darkness intruded. A heroin addict (following in the footsteps of his idol Charlie Parker), Morgan was arrested for possession of drugs and was in and out of jails for decades. He performed locally on an occasional basis, but it was not until 1985 when he had an opportunity to lead his second date. Morgan managed to permanently kick drugs and after an initial period, during which he sounded very close to Charlie Parker, he developed his own bop-based style. Frank Morgan has recorded a string of excellent sets for Contemporary, Antilles, and Telarc, and has become an inspiring figure in the jazz world. His most recent albums include Tribute to Charlie Parker(2003), City Nights: Live at the Jazz Standard (2004), Raising the Standard (2005), and Night in the Life: Live at the Jazz Station (2007).
Scott Yanow, Rovi