The flukey-flakey-funky intro to the opening cut, Stern Language (written by guitarist/producer Chris Cortez for guitarist Mike Stern, who plays on the cut), serves as an excellent cue to what to expect in Carol Morgan's Retroactive because everywhere you go in this disc, nothing is to be taken for granted, even with the classic Tea for Two, which treads a tightrope between reverent, profane, enigmatic, and sometimes fleetingly daffy but compellingly inventive every step of the way. Morgan's a trumpeter always thinking on her feet, never entering the room by way of the door. She'd much rather climb through the window just for the sheer pleasure of doing so. She made the list for this year's DownBeat 'Rising Star' award, and there wasn't an iota of mistake in that. I love Miles, I've listened to and interviewed Tomasz Stanko, and Carol Morgan is quite quite QUITE impressive just for sheer ingenuity and daring, let alone mastery of the instrument.
Andrew Lienhard appears in only three cuts but adds tremendously to the atmosphere when he does, especially in Morgan's surprising choice of Led Zeppelin's When the Levee Breaks, which you're not going to recognize unless listening hard, and her approach in To be Continued is mindful of Eddie Henderson at his moodiest yet is just as ambiently capacious as Levee despite the Spartan milieu. Stern sits in on four selections, Cortez on the other eight, but the similarity 'twixt the two is striking. Both know the pocket to drop into 'cause the center of attraction is Morgan and ever rightly so. Amid the fusiony bedrock, Eleventh House-y in the highly democratic Into It, it's always her lines that are the most beguiling. This is her gig.
And I'm not sure it should ever be otherwise, not in light of how overflowing with ideas, twists, turns, and surprises she is, everything flowing inexhaustibly out of an effervescent brainworks and into the hungry ear of the audience. Some musicians just have that maverick knack of grabbing the spotlight through sheer irresistibility. Larry Coryell was such a player (he seems to have somewhat tamed down of late, as he passes into statesman status), so was Paul McCandless. Their thinking is always fresh and out of the box. The same goes for Carol Morgan. Still, in Retroactive everyone gets plenty of room to blow, and no one bypasses the opportunity, so don't think the leader's pushing her muscle, she isn't, she's just so damned fascinating to listen to.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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