Nate Morgan - Retribution, Reparation
Nate Morgan, piano
Danny Cortez, trumpet
Jesse Sharps, reeds
Joel Ector, bass
Fritz Wise, drums
1 LP, standard sleeve
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : unspecified
Label : Pure Pleasure Records
Original Label : Nimbus West
Recorded Los Angeles October 1983
Engineered & mixed by Dennis Moody
Remastered by Ray Staff at Air Mastering, Lyndhurst Hall, London
Originally released in 1984
- Mass Madness
- Retribution, Reparation
- One Finger Snap
- Come Sunday
“Jazz has been a vehicle for spiritual and political expression for decades. Legends like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus and Billie Holiday have articulated various socio-political perspectives and inspired a next generation of jazz players. One of these musicians is pianist/composer Nate Morgan. He was a member of Union Of God’s Musicans And Artists Ascension. Morgan recorded with Horace Tapscott and Rufus (with Chaka Kahn). His playing style was influenced by McCoy Tyner and Horace Tapscott. He is best known for his recording catalogue with Nimbus West Records.
Pure Pleasure Records has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of Nate Morgan’s debut album, Retribution, Reparation. Recorded in 1984, it features a talented quintet (Morgan/piano; Danny Cortez/trumpet; Jesse Sharps/reeds; Fritz Wise/drums and Joel Ector/bass) and offers deep jazz translations of original compositions and covers. Side One kicks off with the pulse-driven up tempo “U.G.M.A.A.Ger”. Framed by a hard driving tempo by Morgan and the rhythm section, trumpeter Danny Cortez takes the first solo with crisp low vibrato play. At the 1;30 mark, there is a transition to swing mode. Jesse Sharps follows on soprano saxophone with sharp, tone-stretching play. The energy is sustained. When Morgan takes over on piano a dizzying array of right-hand notation and chording with bluesy shading ensues. It is hard bop with depth of feeling. Drummer Fritz Wise starts off “Impulse” with a full-minute solo. Then the complicated groove is established with horn and sax on lead. Sharps comes out hot on tenor as the band percolates. Morgan glides with passionate notes and chords executing deft syncopation. His interaction with the trumpet and horn is compelling. “Mass Madness” explores free jazz with soaring intonation and dissonance. At 2:14, Cortez injects incendiary fury leading to Morgan’s dazzling explosive run. It epitomizes the intensity of spiritual jazz.
Side Two features the title track. After Joel Ector’s vampy bass line, the band shifts into exotic motifs, driven by Morgan. Cortex solos first with the ensemble offering complicated time signatures and flow. Sharps creates a piercing and flowing saxophone while the tenacious rhythm section remains in the pocket. Morgan delivers numerous skillful piano riffs, especially in swing mode, complementing the vamp. When the trumpet and horn return, it is muscular and elevates the jam. The final two cuts are covers from renowned jazz composers. Herbie Hancock’s “One Finger Snap” is concise and arranged with a furious double bass and nimble piano. Morgan’s unique timing complements the Sharps and Cortez unison delivery. The finale, Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” is a distinct change of pace. It is classic Ellington sophistication and melodic eloquence with attention to the song’s lyricism, Cortez and Sharps play against each other with palpable chemistry. Morgan shines on his solo which ushers in a medium-swing, soulful vibe. Ector gets a well-earned opportunity to solo. Morgan and Wise surround him with a hushed elegance. As Cortez returns on muted trumpet, he hands off to Sharps and they duet with subtle chemistry.
Pure Pleasure Records deserves recognition for shining a spotlight on the talent of Nate Morgan. Due to his abbreviated career, the recognition has been sparse. This vinyl pressing is excellent with no discernible surface noise. The overall mix is clear and balanced. ” Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition, September 2021
"Pianist Nate Morgan (1964-2013) was a central figure on the Los Angeles jazz undergound. A core member of the circle around the legendary bandleader, pianist and community organiser Horace Tapscott, Morgan had been part of Tapscott’s U.G.M.A.A. (Union Of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension) since he was just a teenager, and was a key member of the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, known as ‘The Ark’. Through the 1980s and 1990s he kept the PAPA flame alive, organising the Ark’s sprawling songbook, running legendary jam sessions, and keeping LA’s deep jazz roots well watered. By the early 2000s he was bringing hard won knowledge to a new generation as part of the Build The Ark collective. He was a musician’s musician, at the beating heart of the radical, community-minded Los Angeles jazz network that Tapscott and his associates had first put together in the early 1960s.
Retribution, Reparation was the second of the two LPs Morgan recorded for Tom Albach’s storied Nimbus West imprint. His first, Journey Into Nigritia had been a declaration of arrival laced with energies drawn from Cecil Taylor and Coltrane. One year later, with nods to Herbie Hancock (‘One Finger Snap’) and Ellington (‘Come Sunday’), Retribution, Reparation was a confident statement of purpose.
Politically charged with pan-Africanist and Black nationalist sentiments inspired by Marcus Garvey, and titled with uncompromising directness, the album focusses the sound world of the Ark into a surging, restless masterpiece of spiritualised modal jazz. With Danny Cortez on trumpet and Ark stalwart Jesse Sharps on saxophones the frontline is explosive (this set is also one of the few places the extraordinary Sharps can be heard in a small group setting), while Fritz Wise and Ark regular Joel Ector hold down the rhythm section. Morgan’s forceful, Tyner-like chords and virtuosic solos and bind the music together. From the poised drama of the opening dedication to Tapscott’s U.G.M.A.A. (‘U.G.M.A.A.GER’) to the propulsive militancy of the title track, Retribution, Reparation spreads the word: ‘Advance to Victory, Let Nigritia Be Free!’"
Discogs : 4,67 / 5 ; Audiophile Audition : 4.5 / 5