Watch I Called Him Morgan
- 1 hr 32 min
I Called Him Morgan is a retrospective documentary film about the life and death of jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan. Directed by Kasper Collin, the film uses interviews, archival footage, and reenactments to tell the story of Morganâs rise to prominence in the jazz scene, his downward spiral into drug addiction, and his untimely death.
The film takes its title from a recording made by Helen Morgan, Leeâs common-law wife, in which she tells the story of their relationship and Leeâs tragic end. Through her recollections and those of others who knew Lee, the film paints a picture of a man with incredible musical talent, but also one who struggled with personal demons that ultimately led to his downfall.
Born in 1938 in Philadelphia, Lee Morgan showed immense musical talent at a young age. He was soon performing with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey. By the 1960s, he was leading his own bands and producing hit records, such as âThe Sidewinderâ.
However, Leeâs success was tempered by his addiction to drugs. He began using heroin in his late teens and continued to do so throughout his career. This led to a decline in his performance and health, and he eventually lost many of his professional opportunities.
It was during this period that Lee met and began a relationship with Helen Morgan. Helen, a North Carolina transplant to New York City, was at first reticent to get involved with a married man, but she was eventually won over by Leeâs charm and talent. The two began a tumultuous relationship that was marked by Leeâs addiction and infidelity.
On February 19, 1972, Lee Morgan was shot and killed by Helen at a club in New York City. The reasons for the shooting are still unclear, but it is believed that Helen was under the influence of drugs and suffering from mental illness at the time. She was charged with second-degree murder but was able to plead down to manslaughter. She served a short sentence and then disappeared from public life.
I Called Him Morgan explores the complex relationship between Lee and Helen, as well as the circumstances surrounding Leeâs death. Through interviews with jazz musicians who knew Lee, as well as experts in the history of jazz, the film puts Leeâs life in a broader cultural context.
One of the most striking features of the film is its use of archival footage and photographs. The film includes rare recordings of Lee performing, as well as images of him interacting with other jazz legends like John Coltrane and Miles Davis. These visuals help to bring to life the vibrant jazz scene of the 1950s and 60s.
The film also benefits from its impressive cast of interviewees. Wayne Shorter, a fellow jazz musician and friend of Leeâs, provides valuable insights into Leeâs musical talents and struggles. Shorterâs reflections on Leeâs career and the challenges he faced both as a musician and a person add depth to the film.
Jazz historian Ashley Kahn offers his analysis of Leeâs legacy and the impact he had on the genre. Kahnâs insights into the broader cultural significance of Lee Morganâs music help to ground the film in a deeper understanding of the role jazz played in American history.
Overall, I Called Him Morgan is a fascinating exploration of the life and death of one of jazzâs most talented and troubled musicians. Through its use of archival footage and expert analysis, the film provides a nuanced and compelling portrait of a man whose life was cut short by his personal demons. The film serves as both a tribute to Lee Morganâs musical achievements and a reminder of the dangers of addiction and mental illness.
I Called Him Morgan is a 2017 music movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 32 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.3 and a MetaScore of 90.