The documentary I CALLED HIM MORGAN centers on the life and death by murder of jazz musician Lee Morgan.
Director Kasper Collin spoke to Brooklyn Magazine about discovering the material for this film, “I thought I knew about Lee Morgan: he was this young, talented guy who had signed to Blue Note as a teenager. I knew he had recorded ‘The Sidewinder,’ and I knew he was shot by a woman. Beyond that, I didn’t know who he was, much about him, and coming at jazz from the more experimental side, ‘The Sidewinder’ wasn’t really my thing — so I didn’t know much. Listening to that solo made me understand how talented, how searching, this young artist really was […] He had spent his last four years with a woman named Helen; they talked warmly and passionately about her, and said she had kind of saved him from an addiction, that almost had threatened to kill him… and they didn’t know how to deal with that. She came in and helped him. When nobody else wanted to. And… I’m realizing this was the same woman who had shot him. Helen was defined only as the woman who had killed Lee Morgan. In the midst of this I found the tape, made by Larry Reni Thomas, in North Carolina.
Listening to this was fascinating: it wasn’t just the story Helen was telling but also how she was telling it, the sound of her voice… and then continuing to work with this, I realized it would be difficult to make this film about Lee, as I had been seeing it, without those guys who had been close to both him and Helen. I’m trying to make a film that I would like to see, trying to look into this world a little bit from Helen’s perspective, was very interesting for me, myself — what would we see if we can follow it from her perspective a bit.”