Joey Morant – Forever Sanctified
(BluJazz BJ3468. CD Review by Peter Vacher)
Originally from Charleston, Joey Morant is now a New York-based veteran trumpeter who seems to have worked with everyone from Count Basie to Tina Turner, via Lionel Hampton and Paul McCartney, all this without leaving a trace. At least on record.
I heard him a few years back with the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, where his bravura style almost overwhelmed the other more staid old-timers who make up the band. He calls himself ‘Mr. Entertainer’ and has travelled the world according to his resumé and has won all sorts of awards in his community. In other words, he is a classic example of the US jazz musician who just carries on, building a career and holding their own, without the benefit of extensive press coverage or widely promoted recordings. A Mid-West reviewer called Morant, "One of the heaviest cats you never heard of." Exactly.
This appears to be only his second ‘name’ album: BluJazz from Chicago also acting as his promotional support. Intriguingly, Morant is a professional martial artist as well a jazz trumpeter. Make of that what you will. His album is varied and fully complies with his ‘Mr Entertainer’ role; the trumpet playing is bright, sometimes flashy and can lean too readily on the facile quote, but is generally energetic and creative. In other words, he has the ‘chops’ to go pretty well anywhere he wants. Boppish at times, straight-ahead at others, his staccato attack is reminiscent of Leroy Jones, the New Orleans trumpeter.
He sings on his own It’s Expensive To Be Poor and his tribute to Lee Morgan via the latter’s immortal Sidewinder is certainly spirited. In a fifty-fifty arrangement, he has the excellent Mike LeDonne on the Hammond organ for company on half the tracks and it’s pianist Ted Firth and tenor-man John Simon who flesh out the ensembles on the remainder. LeDonne is a man who knows how to set a groove and with him is the fine guitarist Mark Whitfield, their joint tracks swinging hard. There’s a fine duo ballad reading of Annie Laurie with pianist Terence Conley and the jaunty Joey’s Theme with a sextet goes like a train. Both sessions have Morant’s 17-year old son Amadeus on drums and he does well throughout.
If no new ground is revealed, it’s sufficient that Morant has staked his claim and should be more widely heard. He’d go down a bomb at Pizza Express.
Peter Vacher's book Swingin' on Central Avenue won the 2016 ARSC Best History in Jazz Music Award. On Saturday, October 27, 2018