The Life and Music of Lee Morgan
Jeffery S. McMillan
The story of one of the most individual jazz stylists of his time


One of the most individual stylists of his time, trumpeter Lee Morgan began his professional career in Philadelphia at age fifteen. At eighteen, after a short stint with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Morgan joined Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra, where he stayed until the group disbanded in 1958. A return to Blakey brought Morgan new opportunities, including his first successful attempts at composition. But however much his time with Blakey helped to advance his playing and writing, his boss's and his bandmates' destructive drug habits exerted just as strong an influence. Within three years, Morgan would be back home in Philadelphia, strung out on heroin and penniless.

Morgan's return to music in the early to mid-sixties witnessed a tremendous evolution in his playing. Formerly a virtuoso in the model of his idol, Clifford Brown, Morgan brought to his critically acclaimed Blue Note records of the era an emotionally charged, muscular tone, full of poise and control. But it was with the record Sidewinder, recorded in 1963, that Morgan found his greatest fame and commercial success, due to the infectious groove of the title tune. By the time of his death, at thirty-three—murdered in a New York City club by his girlfriend during a gig—Morgan had begun a new phase of his career, experimenting with freer-forms of musical expression.

Jeff McMillan's Delightfulee is the first biography to seriously examine Morgan's vast contributions to jazz, both as a performer and as a composer. Thanks to exclusive access to Lee Morgan's now-deceased brother, McMillan is also able to provide unparalleled insight into Morgan's personal and family life.

Cover photo by Francis Wolff © Mosaic Images

Jeffery S. McMillan received his master's degree from the Jazz History and Research program at Rutgers-Newark in 2000 and currently works at San Francisco Opera. 

Praise / Awards

  • "McMillan's enthusiasm for his subject is obvious; fans of Lee Morgan should welcome this book."
    —Tom Owens, author of Bebop: The Music and Its Players

  • "This book is not only the definitive study of Morgan’s life and music but also highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the rich jazz legacy of the 1950s and 1960s."
    —Noal Conen, ARSC Journal

  • "...a very entertaining read. This is the first biography to seriously examine Morgan's vast contributions to jazz, both as a performer and as a composer."
    --Bay Crossings
  • Certificate of Merit: Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) 2009 Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research

  • Named the 2008 Best Book in the Industry in Jazz Times Readers' Poll

Look Inside

News, Reviews, Interviews

Review | 1/14/2009

Listen to an interview on Return to the Source, WJAB 90.9 FM
Part 1
Part 2
Listen: Paradise Radio Network Dr. Alvin Jones program interview (for Internet Explorer users only)

Listen: WMOT, Jazz 89.5 interview

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 272pp.
  • 8 page photo section, 3 music pieces, 2 illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2008
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11502-0

Add to Cart
  • $89.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2008
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03281-5

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  • $28.95 U.S.



  • jazz, jazz music, biography, American studies, musicology, African-American studies, musicology, music history, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, I Called Him Morgan, trumpet, performer, composer, music studies, jazz history, Philadelphia