James Morrison by David Petranker
James Morrison AM (born 11 November 1962 in Boorowa, New South Wales) is an Australian jazz musician who plays numerous instruments, but is best known for his trumpet playing. He is a multi-instrumentalist, having performed on the clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, flugelhorn, bass flugelhorn, trombone, euphonium, tuba and piano. He is also a composer, writing jazz charts for ensembles of various sizes and proficiency levels. He performed the opening fanfare at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In 2009, he joined Steve Pizzati and Warren Brown as a presenter on Top Gear Australia.
Association with other musicians
Morrison has performed with Dizzy Gillespie (the first Australian to do so), with Don Burrows, as a member of the Don Burrows Band, and with Ray Charles and B. B. King for a 1990 world tour. He has also worked with Ray Brown, Wynton Marsalis, Frank Sinatra, Cab Calloway, Jon Faddis, Woody Shaw, Whitney Houston, Arturo Sandoval, Phil Stack, George Benson, Mark Nightingale, and Red Rodney.
In 2005, he was the guest soloist at the 150th anniversary concert of the Black Dyke Band and in 2007, he again appeared as guest soloist at concerts with the band in Manchester and London. In 2003 he founded the band On The Edge together with the German keyboarder and composer Simon Stockhausen (CD released on Morrison Records).
Morrison comes from a musical family; his brother John Morrison is a highly regarded jazz drummer. In 1983 they formed a 13-piece big band, the Morrison Brothers Big Bad Band. John and James have also worked together on many other projects and recordings. His father was a church minister.1
The discovery and development of young talented musicians has always been important to Morrison. He found his regular vocalist, Emma Pask, at a school concert, aged 16, and she has since gone on to become an internationally renowned jazz singer. Morrison sponsors yearly scholarships for young musicians, and is actively involved with several youth bands. His Generations In Jazz is proof of his support in the young musicians of Australia.
As well as playing instruments, James Morrison has also had input into the process of creating them. Yamaha has produced the YTR6335J Morrison Trumpet, the YTR6335JII Morrison Trumpet, and the TR14B4JM James Morrison Signature Mouthpiece. A similar trombone range exists: YSL456GMA and YSL456GJII James Morrison Trombones and the professional YSL456GJ James Morrison Trombone and the 48JM-GP mouthpiece.
His latest instrument creation project was to work with a designer called Steve Marshall to produce the Morrison Digital Trumpet, a MIDI wind controller that looks and acts like a futuristic version of a regular trumpet. This allows a trumpeter to play electronic sounds in much the same way as a pianist can play an electronic synthesizer.
However, Morrison has taken his love of musical technology to a brand new level. On his latest album The Other Woman, which features singer Deni Hines, he wrote a track called ‘(Tired Of Being) the other woman’. When Morrison performed this track at a performance in Sydney, he revealed his latest piece of music technology. It was a unique keyboard that had a microphone coming out of the back end. The keyboard would ‘sing’ whatever Morrison spoke into the microphone producing the sound of a choir.
1. James Morrison interview – Bob Rogers Show, Radio 2CH, 09:29 AEDT 15 March 2007.
2. AUSmotive.com – first retrieved 19 December 2008
3. The Daily Telegraph