BEST JAZZ ARTIST - 2007
Readers' Choice: Ignacio "Nachito" Herrera
Instantly enamored with bebop pioneer Charlie Parker upon hearing him at age seven, Frank Morgan took up alto sax. By his early 20s, he'd launched a promising career. But Morgan also followed Bird's descent into heroin addiction and as a result spent the majority of the next 30 years in prison. Finally shaking his habit, he relaunched his career in 1985 and has never looked back, even weathering a stroke a decade or so later. In the meantime, Morgan's emulation of Parker evolved into a post-bop style of his own. His recent string of recordings-with another due out this month on HighNote—have revealed a deeply reflective streak that seems loaded with bittersweet wisdom. Since coming back to town two years ago—the first time he's lived here since childhood—Morgan has enlivened the local scene with his steady presence. Listening to his series of smart duets with favorite local pianists such as George Cables and Joanne Brackeen, it's hard to believe that Morgan hasn't been here the whole time.