I’m listening to the fabulous recording of The Sidewinder by Lee Morgan,
on my phone, as I walk down the street.
I’m trying to figure out the tempo. Is it 7/8?
A car goes by, drowning out the high hat.
I look up at the leaves of a Tilia cordata under the streetlamp.
Autumn can be the best time of year,
because it reveals the character of things as they’ve become.
This leaf is yellow, that one still green,
the whole of them fluttering in the light, translucent in their colours.
I’m listening to that drummer. Still trying to figure out where the first beat is.
Cars go past. The drivers are thinking about driving. About going somewhere.
They’re in noisy machines.
They’d rather be going somewhere in their groaning machines
than standing under a tree and trying to catch the rhythms.
Every day, people go places in machines.
Spending their time going places, unable to be in one.
Couldn’t they get out and walk?
Counting the rhythms of their footsteps, against the fluttering of the leaves.
The title number might best be described as a long-meter blues (24 measures to the chorus). The fascinating rhythm section figure established during the opening ensembles is sustained throughout the solos, giving the performance a deep blue tinge as well as a Latin touch. Lee’s solo, fluent and sensitively constructed, never becomes grandstandy and relies at times on essentially simple devices, such as the repeated B flat in the last of his three choruses.
Joe Henderson’s solo is rich in melodic variety (note the contrast between the busy opening and simple continuation in his second chorus). Barry Harris’s piano picks up in intensity as it goes along, aided on his third chorus by the horns’ backing. Bob Cranshaw bears out Lee’s complimentary observations in a fine solo that owes part of its success to the continued pulsing of Billy Higgins’ percussion figures.