Sunday, November 12, 2017


Conducted by Leonard Weiss
James Morrison and his quartet
Zach Raffan, trumpet
Llewellyn Hall Saturday 11 November

Reviewed by Len Power

There was an appropriately festive feeling in the air in the near capacity Llewellyn Hall before the start of the final Canberra Youth Orchestra concert for the year.  After a year of fine concerts and celebrating their 50th year, it was an inspired idea to invite jazz musician James Morrison and his quartet to play with the orchestra in this end of year program.

The orchestra set the mood nicely at the beginning with a performance of ‘An American In Paris’, George Gershwin’s 1928 heavily jazz influenced orchestral work.  This was contrasted in the second half with a fine performance of ‘Appalachian Spring’ by Aaron Copland, a folk tune inspired celebration of 19th century American pioneers.

James Morrison and his quartet, consisting of his two sons, William Morrison on guitar and Harry Morrison on bass, as well as Patrick Danao on drums, presented a number of jazz favourites in arrangements specifically designed to showcase a variety of jazz and Latin styles backed by a full orchestra.
James Morrison
James Morrison showed his versatility with several instruments including trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophone, trombone and piano and each member of his quartet thrilled the audience with expert solo playing at various times during the numbers.

There were a number of works by Duke Ellington including ‘Caravan’, ‘Mood Indigo’ and ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’.  The Miles Davis work, ‘All Blues’, arranged by Judy Bailey, beautifully captured the sound of this unique artist and the sentimental movie song, ‘Love Is A Many Splendored Thing’, worked superbly in a nicely jazzy arrangement.  The orchestra, conducted by Leonard Weiss, gave a fine accompaniment to these works.

Canberra trumpeter, Zach Raffan, joined with James Morrison for a sublime rendition of ‘My Funny Valentine’ by Richard Rodgers and the spectacular final number, ‘El Gato’ by Duke Ellington.  Hearing and seeing these two men playing together so wonderfully was the highlight of the concert.

James Morrison’s easy sense of humour created a party atmosphere and added considerably to the enjoyment of the concert.  After nearly three hours of superb music, the party was over and what a party it was!

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7’s new ‘On Stage’ program on Mondays from 3.30pm and on ‘Artcetera’ from 9.00am on Saturdays.