Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 10/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of the six titles in this latest batch of Blue Note's limited edition Connoisseur Series, this is the CD I anticipated the most. Trumpeter Lee Morgan's "Sonic Boom" is an enjoyable disc, but it didn't quite live up to the hype I'd built up for it. "Sonic Boom" is actually two sessions. The first six tracks, comprising the original album, were recorded on April 14 & 28, 1967, but not released until 1979. Those sessions featured Lee, David "Fathead" Newman on tenor sax, Cedar Walton on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. Tracks 7-13 were cut on September 12 and October 10, 1969, and they were not released at the time of conception either -- they first appeared as the second LP of the "The Procrastinator" in 1978. The sextet on those dates was Lee, Julian Priester on trombone, George Coleman on tenor sax, Harold Mabern on piano, Walter Booker on bass and Mickey Roker on drums. As a result, this disc logs in at an impressive 75 minutes, but unfortunately quantity isn't always quality. "Sneaky Pete" and "Fathead," the disc's funky Sidewinder-like numbers, are solid but not as creative as earlier follow-up attempts like "The Rumproller" or "Cornbread." "The Mercenary" and "Sonic Boom" are altogether better and more exploratory tunes, but they don't match the level of innovation found on "The Procrastinator." By the 1969 sessions, Lee sounds like he's beat these motifs dead with a stick. He is clearly running out of ideas, or should I say variations on earlier successful ideas, and even makes an ill-fated attempt at a boogaloo number (so unimpressive the artist didn't even title it!). Of course, it doesn't help that Rudy Van Gelder seemingly had an off-day as well -- Coleman's sax has an unusual amount of reverb (for RVG anyway), and Lee frequently distorts in the upper registers. Fortunately for us, Lee would find himself again, before his tragic death only three years down the road. His synthesis of slightly further out playing and his trademark grooves would combine for better results on Larry Young's "Mother Ship" (just released in this batch of Connoisseurs as well), and his own "Live at the Lighthouse" and "The Last Session" -- see my reviews of all three titles."
Not one of the perfect, ESSENTIAL Blue Notes, but great
Pharoah S. Wail | Inner Space | 06/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I don't have a bunch of Lee's own albums but I really like this one.Yesterday I decided that today I would review Kenny Dorham's Whistle Stop, and this album. I was fully ready to give Whistle Stop four stars and this one 3.5. Then I listened to both of them again just a short while ago and for some reason this time, this was the one I really liked better. Just goes to show you how subjective even our own opinions are when compared to our own opinions from other moments.One of the things that you may or may not like about this album is that there are a couple tracks which, had Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In had better music, these couple tracks would have been right at home on that show. You know, wild camera work as Goldie Hawn flails about like a boneless chicken to this music. I don't even mean that badly, though. I like those couple songs, one of them being the untitled boogaloo. It's just obvious that mainstream mid '60s rock was a small influence here and there on this album.I was originally going to give the line-ups and dates, but since the previous reviewer already did it, I'll just point you down to his review for those tidbits. For the most part, I think the highlight of the quintet tracks is when it's Cedar's turn to solo. Cedar, Ron Carter, and Billy Higgins are just a great trio here! When they have the space to themselves, they make the most of it. As for songs as a whole, Mercenary, Sonic Boom, and Fathead are the core of the quintet tracks, as far as I am concerned.As for the sextet tracks, I like this line-up. George Coleman will still never be my favorite tenor player, but there is enough going on elsewhere, and I think so many of these tunes are really good that I don't mind his presence as much as I may have otherwise. The Stormy Weather is lovely, and makes for a nice low-key introduction to two of my favorite songs and performances on the entire disc, Mabern's "Mr. Johnson" and Priester's "The Stroker". I love these two songs, and they are the tunes that pushed it over the top and made me decide to give this one the full four stars.I think I like this one quite a bit more than does the previous reviewer, but we still both gave it four stars."
TABBY KAT | Seattle, WA USA | 01/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a child I can remember listening to my father play the album Sonic Boom over and over again. I did not appreciate it much as a kid, but as an adult I can fully understand the fascination with the tunes. Lee Morgan is often underrated, but a sinister genius in this album."
Lee Morgan Quintet
Brian D. Fitzpatrick | Medford, MA | 12/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With the invigorating and inspiring playing of Cedar Walton(piano),Ron Carter(bass),and Billy Higgins(drums).'Fathead' Newman(Tenor),and Lee Morgan(Trumpet) are constantly energized and politely pushed to higher levels of creativity.Lee is a superb ballad player,on 'I'll Never Be The Same",both Lee and Cedar contribute beautiful solos.Newman has a great energy and excitement in his playing,and contriubutes some excellent solos,especially on the lead tune.Great set.Enjoy."