JAMES Morrison is a man indebted to jazz’s past and committed to preserving its future.
Next month the 54-year-old trumpet virtuoso will team up with American singer Patti Austin in a tribute to jazz giants Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
The concert will put Morrison and Austin together with the WASO Big Band Horns.
Morrison said it was hearing Armstrong play Basin Street Blues as a seven-year-old that set him on his way.
“Hearing him was what made me want to be a jazz musician,” Morrison said.
“The feel of that music – I said ‘That’s that I want to do’.”
The concert with Austin marks 100 years since the birth of acclaimed singer Ella Fitzgerald.
“We’re doing this tribute to Ella and Louis, two of the greats, but Patti is one of the greats herself,” Morrison said.
“She’s a Grammy Award-winning artist.”
Once a wunderkind of Australian jazz, Morrison is now bridging generations.
His two sons, bassist Harry (19) and guitarist William (21), are part of his touring band.
“Playing with younger musicians is a great tradition in jazz,” he said.
“The youth bring something else to the music.
“When I was playing with (trumpeter) ‘Sweets’ Edison he was 70-something, and I was 20-something and it just didn’t matter.”
Morrison is also helping to educate the next generation of Australian jazz greats, opening his James Morrison Academy of Music in Mt Gambier, South Australia, in 2015.
“I didn’t want it to be in a capital city,” he said.
“I wanted that feeling of when you go to band camp.
“They all live together, they cook dinner together and talk about what charts they’re playing.
“They get much more momentum and I love that feeling.”
What: James Morrison and Patti Austin, A Celebration of Ella and Louis
Where: Crown Theatre Perth
When: June 9