The name “James Morrison” is known throughout the world for his sheer brilliance as a jazz musician and an all round entertainer.
He is constantly on the move, touring everywhere and anywhere fine music has an audience. His CDs are best sellers and James works with the cream of the world’s best performers. Ray Brown calls him “The Genius” but Wynton Marsalis said it best: “Man, James Morrison can play!”
James Morrison is, by anybody’s standard, a virtuoso in the true sense of the word. Besides the trumpet, this multi-instrumentalist also plays piano, all the brass, saxophones, and double bass.
At the age of seven, he was given his first instrument, at nine he formed his first band and at 13 he was playing professionally in nightclubs. His international career developed just as quickly; at age 16 James debuted in the USA with a breathtaking concert at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Following this were performances at the big festivals in Europe including Montreaux, Pori, North Sea, Nice and Bern – playing with many of the legends of jazz. Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Woody Shaw, Red Rodney, George Benson, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Ray Brown and Wynton Marsalis to name a few. There were also gigs in the world’s most famous jazz clubs – The Blue Note and Village Vanguard in New York, the New Morning in Paris, the Tokyo Blue Note and Ronnie Scotts in London.
Now 54, James Morrison’s career thus far has been diverse and perhaps not typical of most jazz musicians. He recorded Jazz Meets the Symphony with The London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lalo Schifrin and performed concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. James has also performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for Princess Anne. Royal command performances on two occasions for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and for US Presidents Bush & Clinton at Parliament House in Australia and his own ‘Concerto for Euphonium’ with the Tonkünstler Orchestra at the Muskverein in Vienna.
Other highlights include performing at the Hollywood Bowl with Bill Cosby’s All Stars and Dave Brubeck and guesting with artists as diverse as Phil Collins, Chaka Khan and rock legends INXS. In 2000, James composed and performed the opening fanfare for the Olympic Games in Sydney. James was also the artistic advisor to the Sydney Symphony’s “Kaleidoscope” series, which included performances by Chick Corea, Dianne Reeves, Gary Burton and Kristjan Jarvi.
He spends much time in education, doing master classes and workshops in many countries and presenting the James Morrison Jazz Scholarship at Generations in Jazz. An avid user of the latest technologies, James is very involved in furthering the presence of jazz and music education on the Internet and also uses cutting edge tech extensively in his writing, recording and performances.
When not writing film scores, composing or being patron of several youth orchestras, James relaxes in some fairly unconventional ways for a musician – flying his private plane or driving in a rally championship. His love of cars is well known as he was a host on the TV program Top Gear Australia.
In 2012 James was appointed Artistic Director of the Queensland Music Festival, a State-wide music initiative whose vision is to “transform lives through unforgettable musical experiences.” As part of the festival, in 2013 James conducted the World’s Biggest Orchestra, breaking a Guinness World Record with 7,224 musicians at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium. In 2014 James presented ‘A Tribute to Oscar Peterson’ at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival as part of the Commonwealth Games celebrations.
James has been recognized for his service to the arts in Australia by being appointed a member of The Order of Australia with particular mention of his contribution to music education. He is a Doctor of the University at Queensland Conservatorium of Music and has received a Doctor of Music from the Edith Cowan University Western Australia. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia and Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow.
The latest chapter in his diverse career sees James in Mount Gambier, South Australia, establishing the James Morrison Academy of Music, an innovative school dedicated to teaching jazz, offering an Associate Degree in Music. This exciting initiative involves educators from all over the world, transforming young musicians’ lives with inspiration and a love of jazz.
With interests so broad and a career so filled with highlights it seems that James Morrison must have done just about everything he could want to do – but not so…
When asked, “What is there left to do?” James’ reply is typically “This is just the warm up!”