James Morrison Cements Adelaide’s International Music Footprint

Adelaide’s upcoming International Jazz Day concert will be a truly international celebration of the artform says James Morrison.

On Sunday, Adelaide will host Australia’s flagship International Jazz Day concert, which will feature trumpet virtuoso James Morrison who says South Australia has one of the “biggest International Jazz Day events in the world”.

“Being a UNESCO initiative, and Adelaide being a UNESCO City of Music, one of only 19 in the world, it’s only right that we spend International Jazz Day in an international city of music,” Morrison says,

Morrison’s concert will feature students from the James Morrison Academy of Music in Mount Gambier and the Juilliard School of Music in New York, along with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, trumpeter Mat Jodrell and James Morrison himself.

“It’s truly an international celebration,” Morrison says. “We’re doing a new trumpet concerto written for this occasion by Gordon Goodwin, a multi Grammy Award-winning composer. He’s coming in from Los Angeles to conduct the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra while we do this world premiere of a new work.”

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Morrison is extending the festivities outward too with his Generations in Jazz Festival to be held at his very own school in Mount Gambier, one week after International Jazz Day. “We’re joining the two together,” Morrison says. “Gordon Goodwin will stay for the week and do workshops and rehearsals and then perform at Generations in Jazz. A whole lot of other international guests will arrive during the week.”

Residing in the Old Town Hall of Mount Gambier, the James Morrison Academy of Music is a foundation stone in Mount Gambier’s nascent story as a jazz city. “I set the school up here for the very reason that we wanted to be isolated from the capital cities,” he says. “Students have to move here, they share houses together. It’s like going to band camp, it really creates an amazing feeling and momentum for them.”

The school is accredited by the University of South Australia, known for its regional campuses and hands-on approach to learning. “I didn’t want to create another music school just like all the others. I wanted there to be a difference. The University of South Australia were the university that were prepared to be innovative.”

Morrison looks after all aspects of the academy, but it’s teaching alongside some of the best Jazz musicians in the world that he enjoys the most. “I love that I can just walk out of my office and into a classroom and interact with students,” he says. “I’ve been doing that all my life as an educator but it’s always been as a touring musician.”

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The school recently partnered with the Juilliard School of Music in 2016 to provide an array of opportunities and enriching experiences for students. “We really are connected to the hub of jazz activity in the world,” Morrison says of the partnership. “We took an entire big band of undergrad students over to the US in January and did a tour; an incredible opportunity that no other school in Australia, and pretty much the world, can offer.”

This year will see the school’s first round of graduates and Morrison says they’re more than prepared for the world that awaits. “Most students in jazz schools around the world, if you ask them what do you want to do when you finish, the first thing students want to do is go to New York,” Morrison says. “Our students get to go there while they’re doing the course as a part of the course.”

Aside from his commitments to the school, Morrison has a number of personal projects on the go too. “I just finished a new album with the BBC Concert Orchestra that I recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. That will be coming out soon,” he says. “I’m about to tour with Patti Austin. She’s coming out from the United States and we’re doing the Melbourne International Jazz festival and some gigs around the country.

“Pretty much life is either being at the academy teaching or as soon as we finish class I jump in a plane and head somewhere in the world to play. It’s hard to complain.”

International Jazz Day Gala
Festival Theatre

8pm, Sunday, April 30
Tickets via adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au

Generations in Jazz
Various Venues, Mount Gambier
Friday, May 5 until Sunday, May 7
Tickets via generationsinjazz.com.au

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