I Called Him Morgan screening
The murder of jazz trumpeter, Lee Morgan, by his wife.

Westbeth Community Room
July 16, 2021 at 7PM

I Called Him Morgan is a 2016 Swedish produced documentary film written and directed by Kasper Collin which gives an account of the life of and relation between jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his common-law wife Helen Morgan, later responsible for his murder in February 1972.

In Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan noted: “Artistic, obsessive and intoxicating, “I Called Him Morgan” is a documentary with a creative soul, and that makes all the difference. Using a dazzling blend of cinematic tools, aural as well as visual, Collin recreates both individual lives and an entire world. As a slice of recovered and illuminated time, “I Called Him Morgan” has few peers. /…/ The film’s centerpiece interview is an arresting one-of-a-kind narrative that Helen Morgan herself recorded on a cassette-tape recorder a month before she died. Speaking with writer and teacher Larry Reni Thomas, she details her difficult life, her relationship with Morgan and how and why she came to shoot him at a Manhattan jazz club named Slugs in the midst of a blizzard so terrible that it delayed ambulances, contributing to her husband’s death. What makes “Morgan” such an exceptional film is that Collin, with a combination of good fortune and great skill, has built on this excellent verbal foundation with transfixing visuals that set a powerful mood. Regardless of whether you care deeply about jazz, the poetry of Collin’s filmmaking and the poignancy of the couple’s story will win you over. As a piece of history and a personal journey, “I Called Him Morgan” is cinema to cherish.

Edward Lee Morgan (July 10, 1938 – February 19, 1972) was an American jazz trumpeter and composer
One of the key hard bop musicians of the 1960s, Morgan came to prominence in his late teens, recording on John Coltrane’s Blue Train (1957) and with the band of drummer Art Blakey before launching a solo career. Morgan stayed with Blakey until 1961 and started to record as leader in the late ’50s. His song “The Sidewinder”, on the album of the same name, became a surprise crossover hit on the pop and R&B charts in 1964, while Morgan’s recordings found him touching on other styles of music as his artistry matured. Soon after The Sidewinder was released, Morgan rejoined Blakey for a short period. After leaving Blakey for the final time, Morgan continued to work prolifically as both a leader and a sideman with the likes of Hank Mobley and Wayne Shorter, becoming a cornerstone of the Blue Note label.

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