Picks and Pans Review: You Must Believe in Spring

updated 01/18/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/18/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

Frank Morgan

A Charlie Parker disciple in the early 1950s, alto saxophonist Morgan blew some mean bebop as a teenager, but a heroin habit landed him behind bars. You Must Believe in Spring is his 10th album since leaving prison for the last time in 1985.

What makes it such a gem is its simplicity. Morgan invited five top jazz pianists—Kenny Barron, Tommy Flanagan, Roland Hanna, Barry Harris and Hank Jones—to play a solo number each, then do another tune or two as a duet with him. Built primarily of melody-rich ballads, the album makes the most of Morgan's lean phrasing and lush tone on standards like "You've Changed," with Barron; "Embrace-able You," with Harris; and the gorgeous title track that Morgan performs with Jones.

Introspective, unhurried and gently bluesy, Morgan's playing here retains little of the edgy energy that first brought him notice. Instead he's made the most of a supple and serene format. The self-described romantic says it "fits my heart." His and probably many others. (Antilles)"

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