Philly jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan's 'The Sidewinder' added to National Recording Registry

Dan DeLuca, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Entertainment News

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan’s 1963 album "The Sidewinder" has been added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry for 2024.

"The Sidewinder," recorded when Morgan was 25, became a surprise hit and is Blue Note Records’ biggest selling album to date. It is one of the 25 songs, albums, or recordings that are being recognized as being “culturally, historically, and/or aesthetically significant.”

Among the other honorees are Green Day’s "Dookie," the Notorious B.I.G.’s "Ready To Die," Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88,” the Chicks’ "Wide Open Spaces," Hector Lavoie’s “El Cantate,” Blondie’s "Parallel Lines," Lily Tomlin’s comedy album "This Is A Recording," and Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

The selections were made by Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress and the National Recording Preservation Board from among 2899 nominations made by the public. A complete list of this year’s additions can be found on the Library’s website. A total of 650 recordings are now in the Registry. The Library of Congress’ holdings include over 4 million recordings.

“We have selected audio treasures worthy of preservation,” Hayden said in a statement referring to this year’s additions to the Registry, “including a wide range of music from the past 100 years. We were thrilled to receive a record number of public nominations, and we welcome the public’s input on what we should preserve next.” (Nominations for the class of 2025 are open until Oct. 1 at loc.gov.)


"The Sidewinder" is a hard-bop classic that was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, with a band that included Joe Henderson on saxophone and Bob Cranshaw on double bass. The title cut, with its Latin flavored, irresistible groove, and Morgan’s stunning trumpet solo, became a jazz standard and hit No. 81 on the pop charts, bringing Morgan unexpected commercial success.

Nine years later, he was shot to death by his common-law wife Helen Moore at Slugs’ Saloon, a club where he was performing in New York. The story of Morgan’s life and death is told in "I Called Him Morgan," Swedish director Kasper Collin’s beautifully rendered 2016 documentary film.

A Lee Morgan historical marker will be unveiled on April 30 in West Philadelphia at 221-223 S. 52nd St., the former site of the Aqua Lounge, the jazz club that hosted Morgan, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk and others in its late 1960s and early 1970s heyday. Morgan played his final Philadelphia engagement there in 1971.

©2024 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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