James Morrison (jazz musician)

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James Morrison
Morrison performs at the Oslo Jazz Festival in 2017.
Morrison performs at the Oslo Jazz Festival in 2017.
Background information
Birth nameJames Lloyd Morrison
Born (1962-11-11) 11 November 1962 (age 60)
Boorowa, New South Wales, Australia
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • jazz educator
  • artistic director
  • TV presenter
Instrument(s)Trumpet, multi-instrumentalist
Years active1983–present
LabelsABC, WEA, EastWest

James Lloyd Morrison AM (born 11 November 1962) is an Australian jazz musician. Although his main instrument is trumpet, he has also performed on trombone, tuba, euphonium, flugelhorn, saxophone, clarinet, double bass, guitar, and piano.[1] He is a composer, writing jazz charts for ensembles of various sizes and proficiency levels.[2]

He composed and performed the opening fanfare at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.[2] In 2009, he joined Steve Pizzati and Warren Brown as a presenter on Top Gear Australia.[3] At the ARIA Music Awards of 2010 Morrison and a cappella group, The Idea of North, won Best Jazz Album, for their collaboration on Feels Like Spring.[4] In 2012 Morrison was appointed as Artistic Director of the Queensland Music Festival for the 2013 and 2015 festivals.[5] He was inducted into the Graeme Bell Hall of Fame 2013 at the Australian Jazz Bell Awards.[6] In July 2013 he conducted the World's Largest Orchestra in Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium, consisting of 7,224 musicians.[7]

In March 2015 Morrison opened the James Morrison Academy of Music in Mount Gambier, South Australia – a tertiary level, dedicated jazz school offering a degree in jazz performance.[8]


Early years[edit]

James Lloyd Morrison was born on 11 November 1962 in Boorowa, a rural farming community where his father, George Morrison,[9] was a Methodist minister.[10][11][12] Morrison comes from a musical family: his mother plays alto saxophone, piano, and organ; his sister is a trumpeter, and his older brother, John Morrison, is a jazz drummer.[11][12][13] The family moved to various sites in New South Wales due to his father's ministry before settling in Pittwater.[12] From the age of seven Morrison practiced on his brother's cornet.[11]

Morrison attended Mona Vale Primary School and Pittwater High School, then Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he completed a jazz course.[12] At the conservatorium he met Don Burrows, who became his mentor.[12] In 1981, Morrison was a faculty member at his alma mater.[14]

Morrison Brothers[edit]

In 1983 James and John Morrison formed the Morrison Brothers Big Bad Band, a 13-piece group. In 1984 the band included James Morrison on trumpet, trombone, and piano, Warwick Alder on trumpet, Peter Cross on trumpet, Paul Andrews on alto saxophone, Tom Baker on alto and baritone saxophones, Jason Morphett on tenor saxophone, Glenn Henrich on vibraphone, Craig Scott on bass, and John Morrison on drums.[15] The band's debut album, A Night in Tunisia, was released in 1984 by ABC Records as part of the Don Burrows Collection.[16] The title track is a jazz standard by Dizzy Gillespie;[16][17] another track, "Burrows Bossa", was written by Morrison.[16] Also that year he backed Burrows on Burrows at the Winery, playing trumpet, slide trumpet, trombone, and flugelhorn.[18] The album was live at Rothbury Estate Winery.[18] Morrison Brothers Big Bad Band used the same venue for their album Live at the Winery.[19]

Association with other musicians[edit]

Morrison has performed with Dizzy Gillespie (the first Australian to do so); Don Burrows, Ray Charles, and B.B. King. He has also worked with George Benson, Ray Brown, Cab Calloway, Jon Faddis, Herbie Hancock, Whitney Houston, Quincy Jones, Graeme Lyall, Wynton Marsalis, Mark Nightingale, Red Rodney, Arturo Sandoval, Woody Shaw, Frank Sinatra, and Phil Stack.[20]

In 1990, he recorded the album Snappy Doo with Ray Brown on double bass, Herb Ellis on guitar, Jeff Hamilton on drums, and Morrison on piano, trumpet, trombone (tenor and bass), saxophone (soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone), and bits of clarinet, flute, flugelhorn, and euphonium. He recorded a sequel, Snappy Too, in 2011 with Hamilton, but Brown and Ellis died in the interim, so Morrison played guitar and bass in addition to all of the other instruments from the first album.[21]

In 1999, he collaborated with Gina Jeffreys and The Idea of North on the song "Blue Christmas", which is included on Jeffreys' album, Christmas Wish.[22] In 2005, he was guest soloist at the 150th anniversary concert of the Black Dyke Band; and in 2009 performed with them as special guest during their Australian tour.[23] 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 keyboardist and composer Simon Stockhausen, son of Karlheinz Stockhausen.[24] Morrison has a long association with composer and pianist Lalo Schifrin (composer of the theme from Mission: Impossible) and has recorded albums for Schifrin's "Jazz Meets the Symphony" series. These include recordings with the London and the Czech National symphony orchestras.[25][26]

He found his lead vocalist, Emma Pask, at a school concert when she was 16, and she became an internationally renowned jazz singer. Morrison sponsors scholarships for musicians and is involved with youth bands. His association with Generations in Jazz has spanned three decades. He is chairman of this organization which runs one of the largest youth jazz events in the world.[27][28][29]

Radio and TV presenter[edit]

During a number of years, Morrison has been the presenter of the in-flight jazz radio station for Qantas Airways.[30] In 1994, James presented Behind The Wheel, a motoring television series on Network Ten. Ten saw the benefits of a series like this and commissioned 18 episodes. It aired on a Tuesday night at 7.30pm to an audience of 2.1 million viewers. The pilot episode was produced by Tim Kupsch, Andy Wallace and James Morrison.[2] Unlike Top Gear, the show ideas and script were largely conceived "on the fly" by Morrison and Kupsch.

On 19 December 2008, presenter Charlie Cox announced his departure from Top Gear Australia due to lack of time. Morrison replaced him in the second season[31] alongside Warren Brown and Steve Pizzati. He appeared as the "Star in a Bog-Standard Car" in episode 6 of the first series.

On 18 September 2018, he started to present the Tuesday night 'specialist show' Top Brass[32] for BBC Radio 2, which was moved alongside Sunday Night Is Music Night for series 2 in 2020[33] and which continues to be broadcast in the United Kingdom at 9pm on a Sunday in 2022.[34][35]


In early 2010 he formed an association with Austrian brass manufacturer Schagerl to produce "signature" models.[36] These include two series – the custom, hand-made "Meister" series and the intermediate professional "Academica" series. There are trumpets and trombones in both series, and the Meister series includes flugelhorn and bass trumpet. His design of a trumpet called "The Raven" uses rotary valves with a long lead pipe usually associated with a piston trumpet.

An instrument project with designer and robotics expert Steve Marshall produced the Morrison Digital Trumpet, a MIDI wind controller that looks like a futuristic version of a typical trumpet. It allows a trumpeter to play electronic sounds in much the same way a pianist can play a synthesizer.[37]

On his collaboration album The Other Woman with 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 is a Roland keyboard (VP770) that has a microphone attached and 'sings' whatever Morrison speaks into the microphone, producing the sound of a choir.[28][29]

Spanish national anthem[edit]

Morrison played the wrong Spanish national anthem at the Davis Cup final in Australia in 2003.[38] Instead of playing the current anthem, "Marcha Real", he performed the "Himno de Riego", not heard since the Second Republic era (1931–1939),[39] causing the enraged Spanish Secretary of State for Sport to walk out in anger. Morrison later revealed he had mistakenly learned the incorrect tune due to being given the wrong sheet music. Fortunately an official quickly found a CD of the correct anthem, placating the Spanish and allowing the match to proceed. For similar incidents, see list of wrong anthems incidents.

Personal life[edit]

James Morrison met Judi Green, the 1987 Miss Australia winner, at a barbecue before both participated in a celebrity race at the Adelaide Grand Prix.[9] The couple married in 1988.[9][40]



List of albums, with selected details and chart positions.
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
A Night in Tunisia
  • Released: 1984
  • Label: ABC (836375-1)
  • Formats: LP
James Morrison at the Winery
  • Released: 1985
  • Label: ABC (836374-1)
  • Formats: LP
Postcards from Down Under
  • Released: August 1988
  • Label: WEA (255697.1/255697.2)
  • Formats: LP, CD
Swiss Encounter (with Adam Makowicz)
  • Released: 1989
  • Label: WEA (256731.1/256731.2)
  • Formats: LP, CD
Snappy Doo
  • Released: July 1990
  • Label: WEA (903171211.1/903171211.2)
  • Formats: LP, CD, cassette
Manner Dangerous
  • Released: December 1991
  • Label: EastWest (903176023.2/903176023.4)
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Two the Max (with Ray Brown)
  • Released: 1992
  • Label: EastWest (903177125.2)
  • Format: CD
This Is Christmas
  • Released: 1993
  • Label: EastWest (450993863.2)
  • Format: CD
Live in Paris
  • Released: 1994
  • Label: EastWest (450999260.2)
  • Format: CD
Live at the Sydney Opera House
  • Released: June 1996
  • Label: Warner Music Australia (0630151462)
  • Format: CD
  • Released: 1998
  • Label: Morrison (MR 001)
  • Format: CD
Three Minds
  • Released: November 1998
  • Label: Morrison (MR 003)
  • Format: CD
European Sessions
  • Released: 1999
  • Label: Morrison (MR 006)
  • Format: CD
Scream Machine
  • Released: 2001
  • Label: Morrison (MR 10)
  • Format: CD
The Gospel According to Groove (with Con Campbell & The Idea of North)
  • Released: 2001
  • Label: Emu Music (EMU8JA-2)
  • Format: CD
On the Edge
  • Released: 2003
  • Label: Morrison (MR 15)
  • Formats: CD
Gospel Collection
  • Released: 2005
  • Label: Morrison (MRG001)
  • Format: CD
2x2 with Joe Chindamo)
  • Released: January 2006[42]
  • Label: Morrison
  • Format: CD
Gospel Collection Volume 2
  • Released: August 2006
  • Label: Morrison
  • Format: CD
The Other Woman (with Deni Hines)
  • Released: 13 October 2007
  • Label: MGM Distribution (JMDH2)
  • Formats: CD, digital download
James Morrison Instrumental
  • Released: November 2009
  • Label: Classic Fox
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Three's Company (with Phil Stack and James Muller)
  • Released: 2010
  • Label: Morrison
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Feels Like Spring (with The Idea of North)
  • Released: April 2010
  • Label: ABC Jazz (2735660)
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Snappy Too
  • Released: September 2012
  • Label: Morrison (MR 20)
  • Formats: CD, digital download
A to Z of Jazz
  • Released: 2014
  • Label: ABC Jazz (4704193)
  • Formats: 2×CD, digital download
  • Released: 2015
  • Label: Morrison
  • Format: Digital download
A Fine Bromance (with Marian Petrescu)
  • Released: July 2015
  • Label: Morrison
  • Format: Digital download
In Good Company (with Don Burrows)
  • Released: 20 November 2015
  • Label: ABC
  • Format: Digital download
Mare Balticum (with Latvian Radio Big Band)
  • Released: 13 June 2016[43]
  • Label: Mūsdienu Mūzikas Centrs (CD016)
  • Formats: CD-ROM, digital download
James Morrison with His Academy Jazz Orchestra
  • Released: November 2016
  • Label: ABC
  • Format: Digital download
The Great American Songbook (with BBC Concert Orchestra and Keith Lockhart)
  • Released: June 2017
  • Label: ABC Jazz (4815433)
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Ella & Louis (with Patti Austin)
  • Released: November 2017
  • Label: ABC Jazz (4816483)
  • Formats: CD, digital download
Midnight till Dawn (with William Morrison, Harry Morrison & Patrick Danao)
  • Released: March 2018
  • Label: ABC Jazz (6730676)
  • Formats: CD, digital download

Awards and honours[edit]

On 9 June 1997 James Morrison was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia with a citation "for service to music, particularly jazz, and the sponsorship of young musicians".[44]

AIR Awards[edit]

The Australian Independent Record Awards (commonly known informally as AIR Awards) is an annual awards night to recognise, promote and celebrate the success of Australia's Independent Music sector.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
AIR Awards of 2017[45][46] In Good Company (with Don Burrows) Best Independent Jazz Album Won
AIR Awards of 2018[47][46] The Great American Songbook (with BBC Concert Orchestra) Best Independent Jazz Album Album Won
AIR Awards of 2019[48] Midnight Till Dawn Mildlife – Phase Best Independent Jazz Album Album Nominated

ARIA Music Awards[edit]

The ARIA Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony that recognises excellence, innovation, and achievement across all genres of Australian music. Morrison has won two awards from thirteen nominations.[49][50]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1989 Postcards From Down Under Best Jazz Album Nominated
1990 Swiss Encounter (with Adam Makowicz) Nominated
1991 Snappy Doo Nominated
1992 Manner Dangerous Nominated
1993 To the Max (with Ray Brown) Nominated
2002 Scream Machine Nominated
2008 The Other Woman (with Deni Hines) Nominated
2010 Feels Like Spring (with The Idea of North) Won
2012 Snappy Too Nominated
2016 In Good Company (with Don Borrows) Nominated
2017 The Great American Songbook (with BBC Concert Orchestra, Keith Lockhart, Harry Morrison, William Morrison & Patrick Danao) Won
James Morrison With His Academy Jazz Orchestra Nominated
2018 Ella and Louis (with Patti Austin, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra & Benjamin Northey) Nominated

APRA Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1990 "Saturday Sailing" Most Performed Jazz Work Won

Australian Jazz Bells[edit]

The Australian Jazz Bell Awards, also known as the Bell Awards or The Bells, are annual music awards for the jazz music genre in Australia.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2013[51] James Morrison Graeme Bell Hall of Fame inducted

Mo Awards[edit]

The Australian Entertainment Mo Awards (commonly known informally as the Mo Awards), were annual Australian entertainment industry awards. They recognise achievements in live entertainment in Australia from 1975 to 2016. James Morrison won ten awards in that time.[52]

Year Nominee / work Award Result (wins only)
1988 James Morrison Ricky May Jazz Performer of the Year Won
1989 James Morrison Jazz Performer of the Year Won
James Morrison Jazz Male Performer of the Year Won
James Morrison Australian Performer of the Year Won
1990 James Morrison Jazz Performer of the Year Won
James Morrison Jazz Male Performer of the Year Won
1997 James Morrison Jazz Instrumental Performer of the Year Won
1999 James Morrison Jazz Instrumental Performer of the Year Won
2002 James Morrison Jazz Instrumental Performer of the Year Won
2006 James Morrison Ricky May Jazz Performer of the Year Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hudson, Sarah (20 January 2001). "Sounds like home's best". Herald Sun; Melbourne, Vic. p. 100.
  2. ^ a b c Litson, Jo (28 September 2002). "The player - BOLD & brassy". The Weekend Australian; Canberra, A.C.T. p. B.01.
  3. ^ "Driver change for Australia's Top Gear". The Herald; Newcastle, N.S.W. 20 December 2008. p. 7.
  4. ^ "James Morrison wins first ARIA". ABC Premium News; Sydney. 3 November 2010.
  5. ^ Mengel, Noel (8 February 2012). "James trumpets a love of music in new role". The Courier - Mail; Brisbane, Qld. p. 17.
  6. ^ Wilson, Ashleigh (2 May 2013). "Morrison blows his own trumpet for jazz". The Australian; Canberra, A.C.T. [. p. 5.
  7. ^ Sennett, Sean. (15 July 2013). "Voices in harmony get festival off to a big start". The Australian; Canberra, A.C.T. p. 12.
  8. ^ Sneath, Gretel (28 February 2015). "MUSIC jazzing up the Mount". The Advertiser; Adelaide, S. Aust. p. 18.
  9. ^ a b c Denton, Andrew (26 July 2004). "Episode 52: James Morrison" (transcript). ABC. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  10. ^ James Morrison interview – Bob Rogers Show, Radio 2CH, 09:29 AEDT 15 March 2007.
  11. ^ a b c "Fairytale epic of success for jazz maestro". The Canberra Times. 2 August 1990. p. 3 Section: Good Times. Retrieved 17 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  12. ^ a b c d e Thompson, Peter (23 November 2009). "Transcripts – James Morrison". ABC. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  13. ^ "Get set to be blown away by jazz legend". The Southland Times. 28 September 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  14. ^ Foster, Michael (7 February 1984). "Slight shift in emphasis for Jazz at the Cross". The Canberra Times. p. 11. Retrieved 18 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  15. ^ Foster, Michael (14 March 1984). "Music: An uninhibited big band". The Canberra Times. p. 30. Retrieved 17 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  16. ^ a b c Morrison, James; Morrison Brothers Big Band (1984). "A Night in Tunisia". ABC Records. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  17. ^ "Gillespie's death a blow to music". The Canberra Times. Associated Press, Australian Associated Press. 8 January 1993. p. 8. Retrieved 19 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  18. ^ a b Burrows, Don; Morrison, James; Golla, George; Turnbull, Alan; Scott, Craig (1984). "Burrows at the Winery". ABC Records National Library of Australia. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  19. ^ Foster, Michael (11 November 1985). "Mostly Jazz: Some of the Best". The Canberra Times. p. 12. Retrieved 19 November 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  20. ^ Adams-Dzierzba, Nicholas (4 May 2019). "COME FLY WITH ME". The Weekend Australian; Canberra, A.C.T. p. 4.
  21. ^ Wachsmuth, Lisa (26 March 2012). "Can't beat the drum". Illawarra Mercury; Wollongong, N.S.W. p. 46.
  22. ^ Adie, Kilmeny (25 November 1999). "Gina celebrates the silly season". Illawarra Mercury; Wollongong, N.S.W. p. 34.
  23. ^ McDONALD, PATRICK (30 July 2009). "Band as bold as brass The famous Black Dyke ensemble heads Down Under". The Advertiser; Adelaide, S. Aust. p. D. 8.
  24. ^ Shand, John (3 November 2004). "Horns of plenty in festival mix". Sydney Morning Herald; Sydney, N.S.W. p. 16.
  25. ^ Meacham, Steve (26 May 2004). "The talented Mr Morrison". Sydney Morning Herald; Sydney, N.S.W. p. 34.
  26. ^ "James Morrison brings triumph and trumpeting to MPAC's 20th birthday celebrations". Mandurah Mail; Mandurah, W.A. 27 May 2017.
  27. ^ Scott Yanow. "James Morrison". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  28. ^ a b "James Morrison". Australian Jazz Real Book. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  29. ^ a b "ABOUT JAMES". Morrison Enterprises. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  30. ^ Akeroyd, Darcie (30 March 2017). "Visit truly instrumental". The Albert and Logan News; Brisbane, Qld. p. 2.
  31. ^ "Top Gear Australia loses Cox and blows Morrison's trumpet". AUSmotive.com. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  32. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Top Brass, with James Morrison".
  33. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Top Brass, Series 2, Episode 1".
  34. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Top Brass, Vol. 1".
  35. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Top Brass, Vol 2".
  36. ^ Jackson, Andra (30 June 2010). "GOT BRASS IN POCKET". The Age; Melbourne, Vic. p. 26.
  37. ^ "The Morrison Digital Trumpet". 9 August 2005.
  38. ^ ANDERSON, VICKI (2 April 2015). "Blowing his image". The Press; Christchurch, New Zealand. p. A. 19.
  39. ^ "Christchurch Life: press.co.nz". Stuff.co.nz. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  40. ^ "Biography: Highlights". James Morrison Official Website. Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  41. ^ a b Peaks in Australia:
    • All except noted: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 194.
    • Postcards from Down Under and Snappy Doo: "Discography James Morrison [AU]". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  42. ^ "Joe Chindamo". Jazz Head. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  43. ^ "mare-balticum" "James Morrison and Latvian Radio Big Band Presenting Album mare-balticum". Europe Jazz. 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  44. ^ "Search Australian Honours – Name: Morrison, James Lloyd". It's an Honour. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  45. ^ "A.B Original dominates 2017 AIR Awards nominations". theindustryobserver. 31 May 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  46. ^ a b "History Wins". Australian Independent Record Labels Association. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  47. ^ "2018 AIR Awards Nominees". 17 April 2018. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  48. ^ "2019 AIR Awards Nominees". 28 March 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  49. ^ "ARIA Awards Search Results – James Morrison". ARIA Awards. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  50. ^ "Winners by Year History: Search Results for 'James Morrison'". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  51. ^ "The Australian Jazz Bell Awards 2013". The Australian Jazz Bell Awards Limited. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  52. ^ "MO Award Winners". Mo Awards. Retrieved 16 March 2022.

External links[edit]