A Blue Note essential, Search For The New Land is part of the Blue Note 75 anniversary vinyl reissue campaign, featuring 100 titles; key to the initiative is high-quality audio at affordable prices.
Backed by what may have been his most emphatically modern group, trumpeter Lee Morgan did indeed set out on an exploratory quest in this follow-up to his smash, hard bop gem, The Sidewinder (Blue Note, 1964). The title track, which kicks off the album, is more in-line with the music saxophonist John Coltrane was making at the time — a spiritual, meditative piece partitioned into classical-like movements, rather than one of the hard bop soloing vehicles for which Morgan was known. And while those up-tempo grooves are present as well on Search — namely in the invigorating second track, "The Joker," and the somewhat less successful closer, "Morgan the Pirate" — the feel of the album as a whole is one of drift and discovery, celebrating from a perspective of self-realization (or the attempt at such) rather than as part of some nightclub revelry.
Search for the New Land opens with an outer-dimensional trill from Grant Green's guitar and drummer Billy Higgins' cymbals, a duet that resurfaces throughout the piece. The tragic, anthemic, yet exhilarating, horn theme blown by Morgan and saxophonist Wayne Shorter adds purpose to Green's and Higgins' echoing waves, setting the intelligence, longing and desire of humanity's drive atop the waves to reach toward unknown, distant possibilities.
The music pauses to be reawakened after a space by Reggie Workman's bass. This artifice will be repeated four more times throughout the piece, sectioning it off for the soloists — Shorter, Morgan, Green and pianist Herbie Hancock, in that order — again, giving the music the quality and gravitas of movements as opposed to a continual line of solo jazz choruses.
Lee Morgan, trumpet
Grant Green, guitar
Billy Higgins, drums
Wayne Shorter, saxophone
Reggie Workman, bass
Herbie Hancock, piano