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An Upper From Down Under

AAJ Staff By

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After nearly 50 years of playing Jazz Detective, nothing new phased these old jaded ears - not until I met-up with James Morrison of Australia. He is, in my view, the 9th wonder of the Jazz Universe. Proof, if you need it, is contained on a CD with a silly title - "Snappy Doo." It's on the Atlantic label.

This music "kills." The musicians are Herb Ellis (guitar), Ray Brown (bass), Jeff Hamilton (drums) and Mr. Morrison on everything else; trumpets, trombones, saxophones, tubas, and piano. There are eleven tunes which are performed in the mode of serious fun - music which will give joy no matter the depth of depression.

James is a phenomenon! What he can't do well on all of the above instruments just isn't worth doing. Add to this the fact that he arranged all but one of the charts is another creative jewel he possesses. Whether he's performing here in a combo context or as a one-man Big Band, the result is the same - "my god, I can't believe my ears!" And he does it all with wit, polish, and humor...

The CD was recorded in Nov-Dec, '89 at Rhinoceros Studios in Sidney, Australia and contains 53:00 of improvised magic. Four of the tunes are by James as he overdubs his concept as a one-man band. Five others are small group works, one is a kind of Tuba Consort bossa surprise, and one is a stunning brass choir plus big band gem. I suggested that you remove your shoes before play this monster CD. It will, indeed, knock your socks off! Down Under is an Upper!!


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