[JPL] Frank Morgan Obit

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Sat Dec 15 06:29:09 EST 2007


Jazz great Frank Morgan dies
Legendary saxophonist was a regular at The Taos Inn

By Rick Romancito
Published: Friday, December 14, 2007 5:51 PM US/Western

Frank Morgan, the beloved jazz musician who enlivened many an evening at The
Taos Inn, died today (Dec. 14) at approximately 7 a.m. in Minneapolis, Minn.
The cause of death, according to his former girlfriend Amy Mortier, was
kidney failure. He also was discovered to have colon cancer as well.

Mortier said Morgan had returned from a month-long European jazz tour about
two weeks ago. Since then, she said his health declined significantly.
Morgan had also battled drug addiction throughout his life and had also
spent several years behind bars. ³The greatest big band I ever played with
was in San Quentin,² he once said.

In a June 2006 article for Tempo magazine, ³The Hum² columnist Deonne Kahler
wrote ³The last time I saw Frank Morgan on stage, he, at one point, put down
his sax and asked the crowd, ŒIt feels great to be alive, doesn¹t it?¹ ²

 Kahler said Morgan was probably most famous for being Charlie ³Bird²
Parker¹s protégé. ³He burst onto the Los Angeles jazz scene as a teenager,
where he played behind greats like Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday.² At
San Quentin, Morgan was doing time alongside jazz stars like Art Pepper,
Jimmy Bunn, and Frank Butler. ³We played every Saturday night for what they
called a ŒWarden¹s Tour,¹ which showed paying visitors only the cleanest
cell blocks and exercise yards. But people would take that tour just to hear
the band.²

Since then, he poured his heart and soul into his music, recorded several
albums and played with many jazz greats along the way.

Although he moved to Minneapolis to be with family, but always said he
considered Taos his home. ³That¹s as good as it gets,² he told Kahler. ³I
never had it like that the way I felt in Taos, never more in love with a
whole town.²

Details about his funeral or memorial are not yet known. Look for more
information in the Thursday (Dec. 20) edition of Tempo in The Taos News.

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