Video Pick of the Week: R.I.P Jorge Morel. Watch Him Play Some of His Own Pieces and Arrangements
The sad news has reached us that the truly great Argentinean composer and guitarist Jorge Morel passed away on Wednesday, February 10, at the age of 89.
As we noted in a post on his birthday last year: Maestro Morel was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and took up the guitar at an early age, first learning the instrument from his father, who was an amateur guitarist (and a professional actor). He was admitted to a music school in Buenos Aires, where he studied with guitarist and composer Pablo Escobar, who also gave young Morel his first break—performing on a radio program when he was 16. He toured successfully around Central and South America for a number of years and first traveled to the U.S. in 1961. He lived in San Francisco for two years in the early ’60s, but soon settled in New York City (“because that’s where the work was,” he told John Duarte in an interview in the second issue of Classical Guitar (November/December 1982). In New York, he made his living playing gigs (including regular appearances at the Village Gate jazz club) and teaching. Through the years, too, he became a renowned arranger of Latin, South American, and American popular, Broadway, and jazz tunes for guitar, and also a composer of many original works, up to this day. His mid-1970s Suite del Sur was performed by the L.A. Philharmonic, and since then his works have been played by guitarists on every continent. He has put out numerous albums through the decades, as well, including several on the Guitar Masters imprint spearheaded by Classical Guitar magazine founder and publisher for 30+ years, Maurice Summerfield. (A good starting point for those new to Morel is the Guitar Masters release The Very Best of Jorge Morel, if you can find it.) He aqlso recorded for Decca, RCA, Decca, Sesac and Luthier Music.
Among the many, many guitarists who have performed and/or recorded Morel’s melody-rich and excitingly rhythmic compositions—which include works for guitar solo, duet, and guitar quartet, plus concertos and guitar and string quartets—are John Williams, Chet Atkins, the Assad Brothers, the duo Evangelos & Liza, Pepe and Angel Romero, Christopher Parkening, David Russell, David Starobin, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Ricardo Iznaola, Eliot Fisk, Krzyzstof Pelech, Ricardo Gallén, Hilary Field, and Virginia Luque, among others. In fact, by conicidence, Luque has a new collection of old and new works by Morel, called Estampas Latinas: A Celebration of Jorge Morel, coming out soon as part of her excellent Gold Catalogue Composers series. That’s going to be wonderful!
Look for a much fuller appreciation of Jorge Morel here soon! —Blair Jackson