Arts & Entertainment

REVIEW: The James Morrison Quartet with William Barton

James Morrison & William Barton. Photo: Jacquie Manning

If you don’t know who James Morrison is, you don’t know about jazz.  For decades he has been one of Australia’s leading jazz musicians. And he plays a mean trumpet.

A childhood prodigy who grew up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches during the 1970s, Morrison has performed with some of the world’s most famous jazz musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, BB King and Wynton Marsalis.

In the tradition of the great band leaders of the era, he is a charming showman and a stupendous musician. He is Sydney’ musical connection to some of the mid twentieth century’s most legendary jazz performers.

At the mysteriously named “Speakers Corner” out on the forecourt of St Mary’s Cathedral, during the 2022 Sydney Festival, Morrison and his quartet of incredibly skilled jazz musicians belted out a range of famous classics, new compositions, and memorable musical moments.

The highlight of the evening was a handful of jamming sessions with William Barton, the world’s leading didgeridoo player. Together Morrison and Barton mixed up a yummy musical gumbo. The fusion of two different cultures: Australia’s ancient musical tradition merged with the American jazz beat created a mesmerising and exciting experience.

During a pandemic, an outdoor concert is always a breath of fresh air. The light summer mist that occasionally moistened the adoring crowd that evening ensured that everyone chilled out.

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