It’s worth noting that when Scott Morgan
selected the music for his debut album, he broke with the
tried and true practice of remaking standards from “The
American Songbook.” That alone makes Songs of Life
(Miranda Music, 2016) different from most vocalist debuts.
There are a few standards, but there are also jazz
arrangements of pop songs, covers of lesser-known jazz
pieces and songs written or co-written by the album’s
For his entry into the world of recorded
music, Morgan is accompanied by Fred Hersch, piano; Matt
Aronoff, bass; Ross Pederson, drums; with special guest Joel
Frahm, tenor saxophone on selected tracks.
Life” is a sunny, easygoing piece highlighted by Hersch’s
piano opening and solo, crisp stick work by Pederson, and
Frahm’s subtle phrases throughout and his bright, end solo.
The lyrics express Morgan’s experience of a fall day in New
York City – the sights, the sounds and the joy of being
The Manhattan Transfer’s Janis Siegel joins
Morgan for “I’ll Follow,” a ballad that features lyrics by
Morgan, set to the music of Hersch’s “Mandevilla.” He calls;
she responds; they answer together. The harmony between the
voices is effective. Pederson mostly plays by hand during
the solos by Aronoff and Hersch.
Morgan also delivers
a mostly faithful rendition of James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me
“Every song has its own story,”
Morgan says, “and I hope that when people listen to the
record, they can identify with some if not many of the songs
in a personal way.” Some selections reflect Morgan’s
memories of his past. Others are about love and life in
Morgan spent part of his development in musical
theater in Sarasota, Florida. After playing piano and
singing at Florida State University, he took a 15-year break
from music, concentrating on his career in technology and
later on non-profit contributions. Morgan moved to New York
City in 2001, where he met Hersch and was introduced to the
city’s jazz scene. Among those he’d meet along the way is
New York Voices’ vocalist Peter Eldridge.
of Life was produced by Hersch, who is also Morgan’s