James Morrison Quartet @ Fitter’s Workshop, Saturday April 29

James Morrison is a musician everyone should see in their lifetime.

His skill on various instruments (primarily the trumpet, but he is also proficient on the piano and trombone) is the product of dedication from an early age, passion, and a huge dose of talent. That talent clearly runs in the family, and his two sons who performed with him at his Canberra International Music Festival show are proof of that.

The dynamic was electric. Morrison’s banter with his sons was entertaining and comical. The conversation flowed easily and what could have otherwise been a serious show was transformed into a light-hearted one, with Morrison’s jokes, stories and infectious grin. Morrison joked that he had his sons on stage with him so the audience “could see how he looked at the age of 19 and 21.”

But on to the music. Morrison and his band played a smattering of genres, from Bach (“the first jazz musician”), Errol Garner (whose songs Morrison taught himself by ear using a record, at the ripe old age of eight), Ray Armstrong’s ‘The Real Blues’ and Frank Sinatra’s ‘Love Is a Many Splendored Thing’. The performance was joyful and energetic. Morrison is a relaxed and humble performer, and the twinkle in his eye simply said he wanted to share his love of jazz. In some songs, Morrison jumped effortlessly from piano to trumpet, and back to piano. The highlight of the night was Morrison’s piano lesson; a step-by-step breakdown of the great Errol Garner’s piano playing style, which left the audience amazed and impressed.  While Morrison put out a disclaimer that he did not purport to be as skilful as Garner, the gasps and smiles from the audience suggested otherwise.


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