Original Release date: August 1957
Re-release date: 12th September 2006
This album, Lee Morgan’s fourth for Blue Note and dating from August 1957, has long only been available on vinyl or on an expensive Mosaic box set and so is a further welcome re-release in RVG remasted form. The band featured is a sextet led by Lee Morgan (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), George Coleman (tenor and alto saxes), Ray Bryant (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) and Art Taylor (drums) and the enhanced sound quality really counts as the band deliver five tight hard bop pieces arranged by Benny Golson. Three are Benny Golson compositions (the opener, “City Lights”, “Tempo De Waltz” and “Just By Myself”), the remainder being “You’re Mine You”(Green/ Heyman) and “Kin Folks”(Gigi Bryce).
At only 19 years of age, Lee Morgan is already the finished article, his finely crafted solos showing what a talent he was and giving more than a glimpse of what he would achieve in the coming decade. The remaining musicians are best as the tightly focused unit brought together around Benny Golson’s charts and there is a real vibrance as they blow long accompanying cross themes to Lee Morgan’s solos on “Just By Myself”, “Kin Folks” or “You’re Mine You”. The fullness of sound achieved by the presence of Curtis Fuller on trombone was to be achieved again just a few years later in the 1963/1964 embodiment of the Jazz Messengers that included Lee Morgan and Curtis Fuller on a series of fine albums, including the excellent “Indestructible!”. However, “City Lights” is not just a clear forerunner of that great music; it is well worth attention in its own right.
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