“It’s great to be alive!” exclaims alto saxophonist Frank Morgan, a man often at cross-purpose with himself, who despite habitual lotus-eating miraculously kept his blossom above the muck.
The Jazz Portrait Series was born in the infancy of my thirty-year saga with Mr. Morgan. I was in a UCLA extension classroom just down the street from the old Los Angeles County Jail, where Frank was on lay-away. The Old L.A. County actually has an elevator where one squeezes in with the crowd of visitors. This differs from the New L.A. County Jail, where one stands endlessly until admitted to the room where one sits
endlessly to be told that one’s inmate has been moved to another facility.
Given the assignment of creating an album cover, I dug out one of my few books on jazz, spotted a shot of Lester Young that mashed a nerve, interpreted that photo after my own fashion, dropped out of the class, and embarked on the Jazz Portrait Series.
Final Resting Place and Monument to Frank Morgan
On June 22nd, 2009, I placed Frank’s bone all around the trunk of his practicing tree in the courtyard of the Historic Taos Inn. The young lady is Grace Kelly, his friend and fellow saxophonist from Boston.