Jazz alto saxophonist Frank Morgan, often referred to as Charlie Parker’s protege, had a rap sheet that would give supposed outlaw Johnny Cash a run for his money. A heroin addict, Morgan spent most of his life in and out of prison for a variety of crimes including bank robbery and check forgery; in “Sound of Redemption: A Frank Morgan Story” director N.C. Heikin (whose documentary about North Korean defectors, “Kimjongilia,” was nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury prize back in 2009) chronicles a recent tribute concert held at San Quentin State Prison in Morgan’s honor. The concert, in turn, provides Heikin with the framework from which to recount Morgan’s life story.
In addition to interviews with fellow musicians and family members, the film contains archive clips of Morgan (who passed away in 2007) discussing his troubled past. At one point in the trailer, he says, “You have to care about yourself, y’know. And I didn’t think I was worth very much.”
Given Heikin’ decision to include Morgan’s comment, “Sound of Redemption: A Frank Morgan Story” seems to be more than just a tribute to a great talent – rather providing addicts with a road map for the healing process.
“Sound of Redemption: A Frank Morgan Story” will make its debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 14th. On the following day, a tribute concert featuring Morgan’s protege, Grace Kelly, will be held in the Grammy Museum. Kelly also appears in the film. Watch the trailer below: