Surrey born Dick Morrissey's place among the jazz hierarchy was assured even before he discovered jazz fusion & funk in the late 60s /early 70s with If and Morrissey-Mullen. In 1961 and barely out of his teens Morrissey, a self taught sax and flute player, cut his first solo album It's Morrissey Man; though it never set the jazz world alight he nevertheless spent the majority of the decade carving out a lucrative living on the London jazz circuit - tearing up venues like Ronnie Scott's, The Marquee and 100 Club. With pianist Harry South and any number of bass players and drummers he spearheaded a formidable quartet while at the same time regularly cleaning up Melody Maker's annual awards.
In 1968 he joined forces with guitarist Terry Smith and formed If - a groundbreaking jazz fusion outfit who from their base in Sweden over a six year period released four critically acclaimed albums. But they called it a day in 1974 and Morrissey moved back to London and formed a cracking little trio with organist Mike Carr. It was around this time that he met Scottish guitarist Jim Mullen. He and Mullen then went to America to play and record with The Average White Band who at that time were enjoying massive global success. And so Morrissey-Mullen was born. They went on to record many revered jazz-funk and soul albums, mostly on the Beggars Banquet label, and they weren't averse to putting out 12" singles either - many of their cuts were crossing over to European dance-floors. Over a career that spanned fifteen years they became festival favourites but realised they'd taken their sound as far as they could.
Dick returned to his roots and straight ahead jazz. He would continue to play until his untimely death in 2000 aged just 60. The plaudits he received during his lifetime and beyond are too numerous to list here. However, his obituary in The Daily Telegraph summed him up perfectly: 'He possessed the remarkable knack of making everything he played sound not only exciting but happy.'
Here he is boldly going where no tenor sax has gone before:
Dick Morrissey: Star Trek
Nice. Monkey Snr was a close friend of Dick's from those early days right up until the end. I remember once getting a lift in his van - bumping around in the back - to a gig Dick was doing in Ruislip. Was a good night as I recall.ReplyDelete
Thanks for that M. I met him just the once and found him very approachable. He's still missed.ReplyDelete