Pure Jazz Magazine is a semi annual magazine featuring in depth Jazz stories, interviews plus other information you may find interesting. Based in Brooklyn, USA for the world.
Lee Morgan and John Coltrane this bitch, I’m just telling her to leave me alone.’ And about that time I hit him. And when I hit him I didn’t have on my coat or nothing but I had my bag. He threw me out the club. Wintertime. “And the gun fell out the bag,” she continued. “And I looked at it. I got up. I went to the door. I guess he had told the bouncer that I couldn’t come back in. The bouncer said to me, “Miss Morgan I hate to tell you this but Lee don’t want me to let you in.’ And I said, Oh, I’m coming in! I guess the bouncer saw the gun because I had the gun in my hand. He said, “Yes you are.’ And I saw Morgan rushing over there to me and all I saw in his eyes was rage.” It was at that point that Mrs. Morgan shot Lee and her whole world changed the moment that shot went off. She said she became extremely panicky and threw the gun on the counter on the bar. Pure pandemonium broke out and the bar’s occupants fled. The police and an ambulance arrived on the scene. Helen sat there in the middle of all this in a complete daze, wondering if this was a dream, or was it a nightmare? “I ran over there and said I was sorry. And he said to me, he said, “Helen, I know you didn’t mean to do this. I’m sorry too.’” “I can remember the cops throwing me out. I went into hysterics and I don’t know. It seem to me like everybody must have left. And I don’t know where the girl went. Page 28 - Pure Jazz Magazine I ain’t never seen that girl since. I think she thought she was next. But she never entered my mind. You know, it’s a funny thing, she didn’t enter my mind. When that gun went off it snapped me back to reality to what I had done. I didn’t have a coat. I didn’t have a bag. I didn’t have nothing. I was just sitting there, you know. Seemed like it hadn’t registered. I said, I couldn’t have did this. I couldn’t have did this. This must be a dream and I’ll wake up. I couldn’t be sitting here. And then I just went to jail and sat there. “And the next morning I had to go to court. My kids was upset. They don’t know what to think. But the musicians were there. They were there. Everybody kept saying, “Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Don’t worry. We behind you. Don’t worry. We’ll get you a lawyer. Don’t worry.’ I was just going back. Worry about what? And the lawyer told me do not plead guilty. Plead not guilty. I didn’t understand that, I said, “Well I killed him. I’m guilty, you know.” So I did what he said–not guilty. And then I went on back. And when they had the hearing, my mother came up. Then that was another…She was in trauma because she couldn’t believe it. This is my daughter! I said, “well, Helen, you got to get yourself together. It’s done. You done put yourself in it now. So, you got to get yourself together. You got to get your mind together. You got to get yourself together mentally to accept what you have done.” Helen said she spent several weeks on Riker’s Island in jail before she realized no one was going to help her except herself. She fired her lawyer after he paid her only one visit and failed to say anything to her after their initial meeting. Her supporters had dwindled down to family members and close friends who stuck with her in and out of prison. It wasn’t until she had been out of New York for almost 20 years, in failing health, back down south in North Carolina near where her life began, that she decided to grant an interview and talk about the sad, tragic event that had shaped her fall from being “Lee Morgan’s woman,” a possessive lady in the fast lane, to the devoted, loving, church-going mother and grandmother known as Ms. Morgan. Less than a month after she gave this interview in February 1996, Helen’s song came to its coda, its final note, when her weak heart gave out and she died at a hospital in Wilmington, North Carolina, surrounded by her loved ones. Lee Morgan performing with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=h1c4y8bZfs0 Larry Reni Thomas, a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, is a writer/radio announcer/lecturer based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who has worked at seven radio stations and whose journalistic work has appeared in downbeat and The New York Times Magazine Click for another view on this subject http://narrative.ly/death-of-a-sidewinder/ Pure Jazz Historic Moment Original Tuxedo Jazz Band
Book Review Indigenous Pop: Native American Music from Jazz to Hip Hop Review by: Bobby Gonzalez “All the credits gone to the African for the wonderful rhythm in jazz, but I think a lot of it should go to the American Indian.” Those words were said by Ruth Ellington, long-time business manager and sister of Duke Ellington. Duke and Ruth’s grandmother was half-Cherokee, and they grew up listening to her singing traditional Native tunes. Logically, Duke must have internalized these songs and passed them on in his own music. “Indigenous Pop” is a groundbreaking collection of essays that brings to light remarkable stories about the influence of Native Americans on jazz. One such account is that of the American Indian Reservation Orchestra which performed from 1929 to 1933. This unique ensemble was led by Joseph Bayhlle Shunatona, a “seasoned Pawnee-Otoe bandleader who established a career as a musician and humorist that would extend for several decades.” The orchestra presented an amazing sight on stage as they were dressed fully in traditional Native clothing including buckskins, eagle feather headdresses and moccasins. They had learned to play Euro-American instruments in federal Indian boarding schools where they were forbidden to play indigenous music and were coerced to assimilate into the dominant culture. No recordings exist. Mildred Bailey (1907-1951), one of jazz’s first female vocalists, was a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe of Idaho. She pioneered the vocal “swing” style later adapted by many singers including Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Among jazz aficionados Ms. Bailey was known as “Queen of Swing” and “The Rocking Chair Lady.” Among her many hits were “Small Fry” and “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart.” She was so highly regarded that during her final days, her medical bills and mortgage were paid for by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. “Bailey not only left an enduring imprint on America’s collective consciousness, her Spokan/Coeur d’Alene voice helped mold its most distinctive musical art form.” Jim Pepper (1941-1992), was the giant among Native American jazz musicians and composers. His father was Kaw, and his mother was Creek. Jim was a tenor saxophonist whose band “The Free Spirits” included guitarist Larry Coryell. The sound they created was a fusion of jazz and rock. Jim Pepper grew up in the Oklahoma Kaw Reservation and was very much influenced by intertribal dances of the pow-wows and the music he heard in the Kaw Peyote Church. Before recording and performing compositions that were jazz transformations of traditional Peyote Church chants, he requested permission of the Church elders. They granted it. His most memorable tune from that collection was “Witchi Tai To” which was later covered by Brewer and Shipley, Yes, and the Supremes (though never released). In 2000 Jim Pepper was voted into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame. Reviewing this book led to an email interview with Pura Fe, a renowned Tuscarora/Taino singer and musician. Her mother Nancy Lund (Tuscarora) sang in Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert Series. Ms. Lund collaborated with Duke until his death. Pura Fe hooked up as a vocalist with Duke’s son, Mercer, and the Mercer Ellington Orchestra. She recalls that Lena Horne and Danny Glover were in the audience for her first performance with the band. Pura Fe also pointed out that Clifford Shenandoah of the Oneida Nation played guitar for Duke Ellington, and she also remembers Duke reminiscing often about his Native heritage. “Indigenous Pop” covers a lot of ground from jazz to contemporary hip hop. It’s all great music, but its main thrust is that the Native American influence on American jazz music is a mostly untold story that is just beginning to be revealed. Bobby Gonzalez is multicultural motivational speaker, storyteller and poet based in New York City. Edited by Jeff Berglund, Jan Johnson and Kimberli Lee. 250 pp. University of Arizona Press. $35 Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 29