For a country with a relatively small population, Australia manages to punch above its weight in a number of areas, such as sport. When it comes to Aussie music acts that have conquered the world, names like AC/DC and INXS might be the first that come to mind, but we can also lay claim to one of the greatest jazz musicians in the world—James Morrison.
Not content with being a virtuoso on the trumpet, James also plays piano, all the brass, saxophones and double bass. His first album was released in 1984, and since then he has played alongside a veritable who’s who of jazz and blues greats, including names such as Dizzy Gillespie (the first Australian to do so), Ray Charles, B.B. King, Frank Sinatra, Cab Calloway, Whitney Houston…the list goes on.
His career has been defined by constant reinvention and a refusal to be confined to one or two musical genres, and over the years he has expanded his horizons to include a wide range of music. He recorded an album, Jazz Meets the Symphony, with the London Symphony Orchestra, and has performed concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, for Princess Anne.
James has also appeared as a guest performer with many of the world’s major orchestras, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra at the Prague Proms—and has even performed his own concerto with the Tonkünstler Orchestra at the Musikverein in Vienna.
Somehow he has still found time amid all that to give back.
Somehow he has still found time amid all that to give back, applying his years of experience to provide education for upcoming musicians, presenting master classes and workshops in many countries and serving as patron of some of Australia’s major music institutions. He has recently launched the James Morrison Academy of Music in Mount Gambier (SA), an innovative school dedicated to teaching jazz and offering a Bachelor Degree in Music.
James has a longstanding relationship with The Salvation Army. He is a frequent guest at Salvo musical events, and regularly performs alongside the Melbourne Staff Band, one of the country’s premier brass bands. He is also helping the Salvos transform the lives of young people through music, throwing his support behind their Just Brass program.
Just Brass provides school-age children with the opportunity to get involved in music, but provides more than just technical instruction. The program showcases the power of music to provide healthy social interaction and build confidence, equipping participants to take those lessons into other parts of their lives.
The program will be highlighted in the upcoming ABC series, Don’t Stop the Music, which shows James, alongside another Aussie musical sensation, Guy Sebastian, acting as a mentor to participants and appearing alongside them at a finale concert showcasing these aspiring young musicians. It’s just one of the many ways in which James continues to give back, ensuring his legacy will be about more than simply his musical talent.