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Jazzing up Christmas

James Morrison gets in the swing of Christmas. Photo courtesy of www.traa.com.au

INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED jazz musician James Morrison is remarkably down to earth when talking about his 28 year career.

Playing professionally since the age of 13 and with more than 19 recordings under his belt, Mr Morrison has played with jazz legends including Dizzy Gillespie, B.B. King and Wynton Marsalis.

His new album, Christmas, provides a magical blend of Christmas carols and jazz with the all important message behind Christmas.

“I thought it was time to do a real Christmas album, by that I mean something a bit more focused on the message of Christmas. So we dispensed with the Christmas songs and it is just carols,” Mr Morrison told Journey.

The son of a Methodist minister and a church organist, there was no question whether James would be in Church each Sunday.

Mr Morrison has also recorded two albums of gospel music dedicated to his parents.

“They lead lives of Christian inspiration. As a kid growing up, to have a real live example in your parents, right in front of you, is a very wonderful and valuable thing.

“Being a Christian and loving Gospel music, I’ve put a track or two on many of my albums. I thought that was a great way to have that message in all the secular jazz albums.

Mr Morrison said playing in church was a great grounding for a career in music as it set him up with values to compare the rest of the world to.

“Young musicians get out there and if they are lucky get in to a professional band early and start playing with some very fine musicians.

“The trouble is that those fine musicians will have their own life philosophy and young, impressionable musicians will often take on that philosophy because they want to be like them musically.”

He didn’t fall into that trap.

“If I saw them do something questionable, I could go, well wait on, I know some great musicians that I play with every week and they are not like that so obviously, that’s not necessary.”

Consequently, Mr Morrison now runs an annual scholarship program for young musicians and is patron to six young bands.

The new album features vocalist Emma Pask, who has worked with Morrison since she was at high school.

“I got Emma Pask to sing on it because I thought it was really important to have the lyrics of the carols too.

“Apart from a Christmas album it is a jazz album, so I tried to choose songs that lent themselves musically to that as well as having the message.

“It’s gone a few places! We’ve got calypso, we’ve got a bosa nova, we’ve got funk, swing… I think it keeps it interesting.”

Those attending Stable on the Strand in Townsville this Christmas can enjoy a live performance by Mr Morrison and band, including Emma Pask.

“It is a great time of year to be in that part of the world.

“I love doing concert halls and jazz clubs, but there is something really nice about doing a big outdoor thing in the summer with the atmosphere it has and all the kids there.

“I just know we are going to have a wonderful time.”


Photo : James Morrison gets in the swing of Christmas. Photo courtesy of www.traa.com.au