Carol Morgan Trio – Opening

Carol Morgan Trio
Blue Bamboo – 2010

Opening, a new release from the Carol Morgan Trio, is the result of a booking at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola last January. Todd Barkan, of Jazz at Lincoln Center, had asked Carol to bring her group to the venue for a week of After Hours sets with the two stipulations of there being no piano available (Lou Donaldson’s group was playing the featured sets, and the Hammond B-3 necessarily filled up the available space on stage for any type of keyboard), and an awareness of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s celebration of Blue Note Records 70th anniversary.

Poised for performing ‘sans keys’ from her previous outing, Classic Morgana, Carol sought counsel regarding performing at Jazz at Lincoln Center from her friend, altoist Sharel Cassity. Cassity suggested, “You’re booked at Dizzy’s. Start at the top of the list and call who ever you’ve always wanted to play with.” Proceeding forward in good faith, Carol made only two calls. Later that day, her dream band came to fruition with enthusiastic confirmation calls from both Harvie S and Rich DeRosa. She explains, “they are both wonderful players and people. Obviously I lavished the opportunity to play with the best musicians available, but I also wanted people who would embrace my ideas and make it relaxed, but challenging fun. Having worked previously with both Harvie and Richie, I knew that their energy and love would make this project feel great.”

And so it did. The trio focused their repertoire development on unique arrangements of classics from Blue Note’s heyday in the 1950’s and 60’s – including a couple of Lou Donaldson’s tunes, as a tribute to their stage mate at the venue. Carol reports, “I was a little nervous about playing Mr. Donaldson’s tunes with him being right there. He’s someone you can trust to tell it like it is, you know (smiles). I can’t even explain my disbelief when after clicking off ‘Midnight Creeper’ on the third night, I opened my eyes to see Sweet Papa Lou strutting slowly by and grinning. I just stopped mid-solo to lean into the mic and thank him for existing.”

Following the last set of their debut week at Dizzy’s, Carol reports a brief back stage conversation. “Naturally, there were hugs and congratulations, but then Richie says, ‘So – what’s next?’ And Harvie abruptly declared, ‘We’ve got to record this!’ So, I knew what needed to happen, and very fortunately, who to call. Chris Cortez, of Blue Bamboo Music, had previously alluded to an interest in working with me on a recording project. I contacted him right away and we started to plan for what would become Opening.”