Oral Histories

Interview of Frank Morgan

Jazz alto and soprano saxophone player.
Central Avenue Sounds: Frank Morgan
Central Avenue Sounds Oral History Project
African American History
Biographical Note:
Jazz alto and soprano saxophone player.
Isoardi, Steven L.
Morgan, Frank
Persons Present:
Morgan, Rosalinda Kolb, and Isoardi.
Place Conducted:
Tapes I and II: Morgan's home in Corrales, New Mexico; Tape III: Morgan's home in Placitas, New Mexico.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Steven L. Isoardi, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., Government, University of San Francisco; M.A., Government, University of San Francisco; M.A., Political Science, UCLA; Ph.D., Political Science, UCLA.Isoardi prepared for the interview by consulting jazz histories, autobiographies, oral histories, relevant jazz periodicals, documentary films, and back issues of the California Eagle and the Los Angeles Sentinel.
Processing of Interview:
Alex Cline, editor, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Whenever possible, the proper names of the nightclubs were checked against articles and advertisements in back issues of the California Eagle. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.Morgan did not review the draft transcript, and therefore family names remain unverified.Susan E. Douglass, editor, prepared the table of contents and interview history. Cline assembled the biographical summary. Peter Limbrick, editorial assistant, compiled the index.
3.35 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
Interviews in this series preserve the spoken memories of individuals, mainly musicians, who were raised near and/or performed on Los Angeles's Central Avenue from the late 1920s to the mid-1950s.
Learns to play the guitar--Hears Charlie Parker and decides to play the saxophone--Studies the clarinet--Visits father, Stanley Morgan, in Los Angeles in 1947--Clubs on Central Avenue--William "Brother" Woodman--Plans to perform with Holder Jones--Grandmother sends Morgan to live with father in Los Angeles--Jefferson High School--Samuel Browne--Current jazz engagements---Bands Morgan performed in during his high school years.
The Freddy Martin Band of Tomorrow contest--The impact of racism on African American jazz musicians in the 1950s--Effects of the amalgamation of American Federation of Musicians Locals 47 and 767--Chet Baker is chosen over Art Farmer to play in Charlie Parker's band--The reality of Central Avenue as compared to its legend--Charlie Parker and drug use.
Changes in the jazz scene in Los Angeles in the early 1950s--Influence of drugs in Central Avenue neighborhoods--How the nightclub environment of Central Avenue did not foster musicians and their music--Performing on Central Avenue--Roy Porter's band--Eric Dolphy--Police harassment on Central Avenue--Central Avenue today--Fletcher Smith--Clora Bryant--The negative impact of Central Avenue's nightlife on the African American community.
Musical training--The necessity of good technique in playing jazz--Morgan's preference for playing duos--Wynton Marsalis and the importance of technique--Jazz as a form of communication--Morgan's insistence on playing the music he wants to play--Overcoming drug use and self-destructive behavior--Morgan's concerns about whether his interview will reach an African American audience.
More on Morgan's concerns about bringing jazz and jazz history to an African American audience--Horace Tapscott's and Billy Higgins's work to involve the African American community in music and art--Defining success in the jazz world--More on Clora Bryant--Recent performing activities.