I Called Him Morgan
Director: Kasper Collin
Cast: Lee Morgan, Helen Morgan, Wayne Shorter
Genre: Documentary, Jazz
Country of Origin: USA 2016 92 mins.
Official Selection 73rd Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, BFI 2016 London Film Festival
Released by Picturehouse Cinema
Kasper Collin's superb documentary on the jazz legend Lee Morgan, who tragically died at the height of his fame is a must, and not solely for jazz fans. It's compelling viewing with a story line that grabs you.
In 1996 North Carolina teacher and jazz lover Larry Reni Thomas discovered that his new pupil was 70-year-old Helen Morgan, the widow of the jazz legend Lee Morgan who later agreed to an interview. Helen Morgan died one month later. The tape recording forms the basis of this riveting documentary.
Helen Morgan, born in the 1920s in rural North Carolina had two children at 13 and 14 years who were cared for by her grandparents. Helen married but after the death of her husband, aged 17, she left for New York, worked for an answering service and her apartment on West 53rd Street became a top of the list haunt with a forever generous kitchen for hungry jazz musicians.
On a snowy night in 1967, Helen found Lee Morgan on the street, a down-and-out who'd sold his coat for a heroin fix - 'I'm going to get you a coat.' They became lovers, moved to the Bronx and this incredible woman brought Lee Morgan, who'd played on John Coltrane's classic 1957 album 'Blue Train' and had been part of the Art Blakey Quartet back from heroin addiction to the jazz stage.
Archive footage, still images, talking heads, legendary characters and fabulous jazz make this a must see, compelling documentary that moves tragically in February 1972 to Slugs Bar in New York's East Village, where Helen Morgan shot Lee Morgan.