View Full Version : Last Set at Slugs

12-07-2010, 04:59 PM
Season's Greetings to all the good folk in the AR forum! My sincere apologies be being rather absent of late -- just a LOT of regular life stuff keeping me distracted. Finally had a day off and was able to do this piece that I have been thinking about for the last few weeks.

The history of 20th century music is littered tragically hip characters -- musical geniuses that self destructed or were cut down at a young age. Blues great Robert Johnson was just 27 when he died in 1938. Hank Williams was 29 when he OD'd in 1953, CharlieParker was 34 when he checked out in 1955. The 1960s contributed Brian Jones and Otis Redding to the list. No decade saw the loss of more prominent musicians than the 1970s. Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Elvis, Joplin, Duane Allman, Tommy Bolin, Jim Croce, Lowell George, Keith Moon and Lee Morgan were all taken in the '70s. What's that? You recognize all of these names EXCEPT Lee Morgan?

Lee Morgan's story is a modern American Greek Tragedy. Introduced to the trumpet at age 13, Morgan takes a few lessons with Clifford Brown -- who influenced a generation of jazz trumpeters despite being killed in a car crash at age 25 himself -- and then goes on to join Dizzy Gillespie's Big Band at the age of 18. Morgan begins recording with many of the hard bop heros of the late 1950s. He is featured on Coltrane's groundbreaking LP "BlueTrane" in 1957. He joins Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, but also develops a nasty heroin habit. Within a few years he is kicked out of the band and he goes into a kind of self-imposed exile in his home town in Philly.

He meets an aging hooker named Helen who helps him get himself back together and he returns to record one of Jazz's few hit records, The Sidewinder, in 1964 on his first recording session back.

Nothing succeeds like success and he is soon in demand again. Unfortunately, he hasn't completely left the drug scene behind and in a bizarre sequence of events involving a drug deal gone bad, revenge, a new young girlfriend and some seriously bad karma, Helen ends up accidentally shooting him dead with his own gun on the bandstand at Slugs in NYC in February of 1972. (Listen to Billy Hart's telling of the tale: The Day Lee Morgan Died -- warning strong language) (http://billyhartmusic.com/The%20Day%20Lee%20Morgan%20Died.mp3)

The story is so powerful that it inspired playwright Samuel Harps to pen "Don't Explain," his multi-award winning drama about the event. Harps told me that after she shot Morgan she held him in her arms and cried as he died from loss of blood.

12-07-2010, 05:04 PM
Al, you have generated a lot of heat with your wonderful colours in this sad tale

12-08-2010, 11:29 AM
Love your writing and the painting communicates well to.:):)

L Skylar Brown
12-08-2010, 01:47 PM
Wow, Far out, Dude. The story is amazing - So is the art!!!

12-08-2010, 02:59 PM
Nice one with lovely colours!

12-08-2010, 06:06 PM
Al, this is so.. hm... saxy...:-) i know, jazzy and he is playing trumpet anyway... wow... the colors are danzing happily in a wonderful tune. Gorgeous work. Good to see you again. :-)

Mike Severoff
12-09-2010, 05:15 AM
Surprisingly and admirably (about your picture).
I have not had the patience to translate your text, sorry :)

12-09-2010, 06:37 AM
I admire your style very much... This is another topnotch image....

12-09-2010, 12:59 PM
Thank you for sharing his story Al. Beautifully painted and always distinctively Alkratzer!:):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

12-09-2010, 01:23 PM
Powerful story, and a great painting.. Well done Al!:)

L Skylar Brown
12-09-2010, 01:36 PM
I did some digging from your leads, and it seems there is a film starring Harry j Lennix that has wrapped in NYC. Maybe we'll see it somewhere.

12-09-2010, 02:27 PM
As sometimes happens, the inspiration strikes me in two ways -- here's a song I've written called "Last Set at Slugs" as well. Apologies that this is a Band in a Box rendering and not my trio -- we have a few weeks off and have not gotten this on tape yet. http://www.alkratzer.com/Last Set at Slugs.mp3 The melody has a number of "Morganisms" and the overall vibe is striving to be in that mid- 60s hard bop vein

Thanks justjean for your comment -- I was using the dark blues in his face to indicate the darkness overtaking his life and the orange background changing into red to indicate the coming psychic storm about to overtake him

Jasminek -- Thanks for saying so -- I guess someday when I get better at painting I may not need to explain the backstory, it will be obvious. In the meantime something like this has been spinning my head for a couple of months and I feel the need to write as well to get it out.

Skylar -- So glad you like it and thanks for the tip on the film -- don't know if it is based on Samuel Harps play or not, he didn't say anything about an upcoming film when I met him in October.

GekkouJin -- Thanks and best wishes

AT-TA -- Your comments are always much appreciated. It may not be obvious here, but I was actually trying to tone down the colors a bit -- just never seems to work for me.

Mike -- I appreciate you taking the time -- sorry for the translation problem.

Kenmo -- Thank you so much -- it is sweet of you to say so.

Sandra -- Thank you dear lady -- I hope all is well with you and your family and the holidays bring joy!

Barnburner -- talk about stories! I need a week to catchup with your series!! I have missed much and look forward to spending more time on the forum soon.

Sincere well wishes to all -- Al

12-09-2010, 05:58 PM
Oh... This is so good!!! Great to see some work from you Al!

L Skylar Brown
12-09-2010, 06:21 PM
If what I read is correct, it is based on Harps' play.

12-09-2010, 09:02 PM
That's a beauty Al. Great composition with your interesting brand palette and a few new hues as well which is really enjoyable.

12-09-2010, 11:47 PM
All the best to You too, dear Al ... and this is really one of Your best in any sense!

12-11-2010, 10:07 AM
Many thanks and best wishes of the season Caesar!

GZ -- Funny you should mention the composition -- it is actually constructed from using the golden triangle in three different directions. I'll do a follow up post to show how it was constructed.

Thanks Skylar -- I just confirmed with Samuel Harps that they are working on the movie and shopping it around.

Eddie -- thanks so much -- this one meant a lot to me -- Morgan's Sidewinder was the first jazz LP i ever bought and it was a real ear-opener for a suburban kid who listened to the Beatles, Stones and the like almost exclusively. I was quickly drawn into the whole jazz world from there.

12-11-2010, 10:29 AM
Al, thanks for the great history and for an equally great painting! I always look forward to seeing your work!

12-11-2010, 06:02 PM
Truly great image!!!

12-12-2010, 03:54 AM
Missed your paintings Al, but you have made up for it with another brilliant painting. Well done:)

12-12-2010, 08:56 AM
I fell in love with both compositions, Al, Though I have to admit the music track put me in mind of John Tesh (A hugely underrated composer,IMHO). I kept waiting for the horn to break in. I'm looking forward to the secrets of your construction; I think I've spotted most of the bones. ;)

12-13-2010, 10:53 AM
Thanks Doc! -- I'll post the followup soon.

Coops -- I've missed much by not having time to see what the group is posting -- hope to have more time soon! Thanks!

Jibes -- Thanks for taking the time to look and comment!

Scott -- This was a fun one to do -- thanks for the kind words!

12-13-2010, 11:54 AM
A beautiful:eek: painting Al and a deserved tribute to a great jazz musician.

12-13-2010, 10:53 PM
Fantastic AL:):)