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Frank Morgan was arguably one of the greatest alto saxophone players who ever lived, but in order to hear him you would have had to go to San Quentin Prison. That’s where he played with The San Quentin All-Stars, comprised of jailed jazz greats like Art Pepper and Dupree Bolton. From the moment little Frankie was born he was under pressure to be great. His father was a guitarist for the hugely successful Inkspots. At 14, his dad took Frankie to LA. At 17, he was backing Billie Holiday and rivaling Charlie Parker. But being just as good as Bird wasn’t enough. Little Frankie wanted in to the club—the heroin club. That youthful folly wound up costing him 30 years of revolving door incarceration, including long stretches at San Quentin. Prison and addiction wore Frank down, until it seemed he would waste his whole life and, sadly, his supreme gift. The combination of a soul-searing life and a talent blessed by the gods made for magnificent music—and Frank’s path to redemption. At late night sessions in LA, jazz musicians used to dedicate their shows to the greatest alto sax player in the world. Director N.C. Heiken (Kimjongilia) does the same with an all-star band made up of the finest musicians of the day, all of whom knew Frank. On October 12, 2012, they gave the first concert in years for the lifers at San Quentin. Sound of Redemption penetrates the heart of the complex and talented Frank Morgan and raises the roof above the cells and bars, over the Bastille by the Bay.
Showing with When the Curtain Comes Down