Being acknowledged as a Member of the Order of Australia in 1997 was just one of the many accolades James Morrison has had bestowed on him.
Often described as a multi-instrumentalist skilled at the trombone, euphonium, flugelhorn, saxophone and piano, in the music world James Morrison is best known as a virtuoso trumpet player.
With 21 albums to his credit, Morrison’s name is synonymous with the smoothness of jazz. Even so, he has had his fair share of embarrassing moments.
At the Davis Cup final in Spain I was asked to play both the Australian and Spanish national anthems. This would have been fine, but someone slipped up along the way and gave me the wrong Spanish anthem, Morrison said.
So here I am going for it and could see the crowd start to stir with looks of horror etched in their faces. It so happened I was given the wrong music sheet and was playing the old one. The revolutionary one -¦ you know, down with the king and off with his head kinda thing.
And sitting there in the Royal Box was no other than King Carlos of Spain himself. Someone in the Australian Foreign Affairs Department would have had a tough time explaining that one come Monday morning.
Luckily for Golden Lips Morrison, his latest CD with Deni Hines, The Other Woman, does not include any national anthems, Spanish or otherwise, just brilliant jazz classics using his musicality and Hines’s velvet-like voice.
She was damn good, wasn’t she? We kept that album to a two-day recording in the studio. I feel that jazz should not be -˜tweaked’ and should be kept as pure and soulful as if you were listening to the event live, Morrison said.
Recording quickly is the best way to keep the music honest and, after touring and recording for many years, the main focus of a musician becomes finding new ways to present the music they love to their audience.
This album is an opportunity to collaborate with a vocalist coming from a different tradition to myself and to see where we meet. Developing ideas like this can often lead one in new directions that would otherwise perhaps not have been explored.
According to Hines, who has worked with some of the best in the business including Kylie Minogue and INXS, the idea for The Other Woman came about in an airport lounge while she was touring with Dusty, the Musical.
The idea of a collaboration with Morrison to record some of the jazz gems and then hopefully tour reached fruition of all things at an airport lounge, she said.
James was touring. One minute he’d be doing a gig in India; then he’d be on a plane to Malaysia for another. It just seemed the only place to connect.
For Hines, the possibility of collaborating with a virtuoso like Morrison on classic songs was obviously appealing.
I don’t read music, but these songs speak to you, she said.
Unlike pop, which has a usual use-by date of six months, these classics are timeless. These have been sung by all the great female singers, so actually recording and singing these classics and working with James on this project was one of the biggest learning curves I have had in five years.